JOURNAL ARTICLE

PGC-1alpha mediates exercise-induced skeletal muscle VEGF expression in mice

Lotte Leick, Ylva Hellsten, Joachim Fentz, Stine S Lyngby, Jørgen F P Wojtaszewski, Juan Hidalgo, Henriette Pilegaard
American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism 2009, 297 (1): E92-103
19401459
The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that PGC-1alpha is required for exercise-induced VEGF expression in both young and old mice and that AMPK activation leads to increased VEGF expression through a PGC-1alpha-dependent mechanism. Whole body PGC-1alpha knockout (KO) and littermate wild-type (WT) mice were submitted to either 1) 5 wk of exercise training, 2) lifelong (from 2 to 13 mo of age) exercise training in activity wheel, 3) a single exercise bout, or 4) 4 wk of daily subcutaneous AICAR or saline injections. In skeletal muscle of PGC-1alpha KO mice, VEGF protein expression was approximately 60-80% lower and the capillary-to-fiber ratio approximately 20% lower than in WT. Basal VEGF mRNA expression was similar in WT and PGC-1alpha KO mice, but acute exercise and AICAR treatment increased the VEGF mRNA content in WT mice only. Exercise training of young mice increased skeletal muscle VEGF protein expression approximately 50% in WT mice but with no effect in PGC-1alpha KO mice. Furthermore, a training-induced prevention of an age-associated decline in VEGF protein content was observed in WT but not in PGC-1alpha KO muscles. In addition, repeated AICAR treatments increased skeletal muscle VEGF protein expression approximately 15% in WT but not in PGC-1alpha KO mice. This study shows that PGC-1alpha is essential for exercise-induced upregulation of skeletal muscle VEGF expression and for a training-induced prevention of an age-associated decline in VEGF protein content. Furthermore, the findings suggest an AMPK-mediated regulation of VEGF expression through PGC-1alpha.

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