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Vascularization via activation of VEGF-VEGFR signaling is essential for peripheral nerve regeneration

Yohei Nishida, Yurie Yamada, Hiroko Kanemaru, Atsushi Ohazama, Takeyasu Maeda, Kenji Seo
Biomedical Research 2018, 39 (6): 287-294
Peripheral nerve injury has been suggested to up-regulate mRNA for the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) which enhances nerve regeneration. VEGF is known to regulate angiogenesis by binding with a specific receptor, the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR). However, little is known about the involvement of VEGF-VEGFR signaling in the nerve regeneration at early stages though previous studies contained a lengthy observation. The present study examined that relationship between angiogenesis and peripheral nerve regeneration at the early stage after nerve transection by focusing on the chronological changes in the expression patterns of VEGF-VEGFR signaling. This study used our previously reported experimental model for nerve regeneration following the transection of the inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) in mice. In a double staining of PGP9.5 and CD31, respective markers for the nerve fibers and endothelial cells, CD31 immunoreactions first appeared in the injury site on postoperative (PO) day 2 when the transected nerve fibers had not been re-connected. The most intense immunoreaction for CD31 was found around the regenerating nerve fibers extending from the proximal stump on PO day 3, but it gradually lessened to disappear by PO day 7. The expression patterns of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 showed similar chronological changes through the observation periods, with most intense immunoreaction found on PO day 3. Western blotting of total protein extracted from the injury site demonstrated the clear bands for VEGF-A and VEGF-B on PO day 2, indicating a time lag for the expression of ligands and receptors. A local administration of antibody to VEGF-A inhibited the elongation of the nerve fibers from the proximal stump. Furthermore, this administration of VEGF-A antibody inhibited the expression of CD31 in the gap between proximal and distal stumps. These results indicated that a nerve injury initiates productions in VEGF-A and VEFG-B, followed with the expression of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 at early stages after the nerve injury. Taken these findings together, it is reasonable to postulate that immediate response of VEGF-VEGFR signaling to nerve injury plays a crucial role in local angiogenesis, resulting in a trigger for the regeneration of the nerve fibers in mouse IAN.


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