Heparin has a potent angiogenic effect in experimental animals and patients with ischemic diseases; however, the precise mechanism behind this angiogenesis remains to be clarified. The aim of this study was to determine whether the administration of heparin affects the levels of heparin-binding angiogenic factors in human plasma, and to identify the molecule responsible for heparin-induced angiogenesis. Plasma levels of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were measured before and after administration of 100 U, 3,000 U or 10,000 U of heparin in patients with coronary artery disease. Administration of 3,000 U or 10,000 U of heparin caused significant increases in plasma HGF (40- and 54-fold, respectively), in absence of obvious increases in bFGF and VEGF levels. Furthermore, compared with the serum collected before heparin administration, the serum collected after heparin administration had more prominent growth-promoting and vascular tube-inducing properties on endothelial cells, and these increased activities were completely inhibited by neutralization of HGF, whereas neutralization of bFGF and VEGF had no effect. These findings suggest that HGF plays a significant role in heparin-induced angiogenesis.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.