Role of hypoxia and extracellular matrix-integrin binding in the modulation of angiogenic growth factors secretion by retinal pigmented epithelial cells

J Cell Biochem. 1999 Jul 1;74(1):135-43.


The retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) is a monolayer of polarized cells located between retinal photoreceptors and blood vessels of the choroid. The basal surface of RPE cells rests on Bruch's membrane, a complex extracellular matrix structure which becomes abnormal in several disease processes, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Ruptures or abnormalities in Bruch's membrane are frequently accompanied by choroidal neovascularization. Disturbed interaction of RPE cells with their extracellular matrix (ECM) could play a role in this process. The present study was undertaken to examine the complex interactions between hypoxia, integrin, and ECM in the regulation of RPE functions. Antibody blocking experiments demonstrated that RPE cell adhesion to vitronectin is mediated primarily through alphavbeta5 and adhesion to fibronectin occurs through alpha5beta1. RPE adhesion to immobilized laminin demonstrated highest level of non-RGD-mediated adhesion as compared to that with collagen IV or the RGD matrices such as vitronectin (alphavalpha5) , fibronectin (alpha5beta1), or thrombospondin (alpha5beta1 + alphavbeta5). Addition of soluble vitronectin, or fibrinogen to RPE cell cultures resulted in a small to moderate increase in VEGF and FGF2 in the media, while each of these growth factors was dramatically increased after addition of thrombospondin 1 (TSP1). In contrast, soluble fibronectin resulted in differential upregulation of VEGF but not FGF2. Similarly, immobilized TSP1 resulted in differential greater upregulation in VEGF but not FGF2 release from RPE as compared to other ECMs under either normoxic or hypoxic conditions. Additionally, hypoxia resulted in a time-dependent increase in VEGF, but not FGF2 release in the media. RPE cells grown on TSP1-coated plates showed increased VEGF and FGF2 in their media compared to cells grown on plates coated with type IV collagen, laminin, vitronectin, or fibronectin. The TSP1-induced increase in secretion of growth factors was partially blocked by anti-alpha5beta1, anti-alphavbeta3, and anti-alphavbeta5 antibodies indicating that it may be mediated in part by TSP1 binding to those integrins. These data suggest that alterations in oxygen levels (hypoxia/ischemia) and ECM of RPE cells, a prominent feature of AMD, can cause increased secretion of angiogenic growth factors that might contribute to the development of choroidal neovascularization. These data also suggest the potential modulatory role of VEGF release from RPE by ECM and alphavbeta5 and alpha5beta1 integrins.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Cell Hypoxia*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Integrins / immunology
  • Integrins / metabolism*
  • Lymphokines / metabolism*
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / cytology
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Culture Media
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Integrins
  • Lymphokines
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2