Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF; also called vascular permeability factor) is a secreted mitogen with distinct target cell specificity for vascular endothelial cells. Hypoxia upregulates VEGF expression, making it a likely mediator of the angiogenesis that occurs in poorly perfused tissues. The purpose of this study was to determine whether VEGF gene expression is upregulated in chronically stimulated skeletal muscles, where hypoxia is thought to trigger the growth of blood vessels. The right anterior tibialis and extensor digitorum longus muscles of 12 rats were stimulated electrically (10 Hz, 300 microseconds pulses) for up to 21 days by way of the peroneal motor nerve. The contralateral muscles served as control. Northern analysis showed that VEGF mRNA levels increased by approximately sixfold after 4 days of stimulation and then decreased gradually over the next several days. VEGF mRNA levels were still elevated by two- to threefold after 21 days of stimulation. Higher VEGF mRNA levels in the early stages of muscle stimulation and gradually decreasing levels in later stages are consistent with a metabolic hypothesis in which tissue oxygenation controls VEGF expression. These studies support the hypothesis that VEGF has a physiological role in promoting angiogenesis in stimulated skeletal muscle.
- Copyright © 1995 the American Physiological Society