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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Changes in fetal lung distension alter expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and its isoforms in developing rat lung.

Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) is essential for normal pulmonary vascular and parenchymal development. Changes in fetal lung distension profoundly affect lung growth and maturation, including vascular development. To define developmental lung expression of VEGF-A and its receptors and investigate effects of changes in fetal lung distension, we studied fetal rats at embryonic day (ED) 16, 19, and 22, postnatal rats at postnatal day (PD) 5, 10, and 21, and adult rats. We used reverse transcriptase PCR to measure mRNA expression for VEGF-A isoforms (VEGF-A(120), (-144), (-164), and (-188)) and VEGF-A receptors, Flt-1 and Flk-1. With advancing development, mRNA content increased only for VEGF-A(188) (p < 0.05) and for Flt-1 (p < 0.02) and Flk-1 (p < 0.005). As a percentage of total VEGF-A mRNA, VEGF-A(188) (15% at ED 16) increased to become the dominant isoform at PD 21 (40%, p < 0.005) and adulthood; in contrast, there were decreases in both VEGF-A(144) (p < 0.05) and (-120) (p < 0.005). VEGF-A protein was expressed in alveolar epithelium (type I and II cells) and interstitium. Increasing fetal lung distension by tracheal occlusion (TO) accelerated the normal maturational pattern of VEGF-A isoforms and increased VEGF-A protein; decreasing fetal lung distension by congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) retarded the normal developmental pattern and decreased VEGF-A protein. Neither TO nor CDH consistently affected Flt-1 or Flk-1 mRNA content. These results show that mechanical factors significantly affect lung VEGF-A expression and suggest that VEGF-A mediates previously described changes in lung vascular and parenchymal development caused by CDH and by TO.[1]


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