Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent enhancer of microvascular permeability in vivo. To date, its effects on hydraulic conductivity (L(p)) and diffusive albumin permeability (P(e)) of endothelial monolayers have not been thoroughly assessed in vitro. We hypothesized that VEGF affects endothelial transport properties differently depending on vessel location and endothelial phenotype. Using three well-established endothelial cell culture models-human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs), and bovine retinal microvascular cells (BRECs)-grown on porous, polycarbonate filters we were able to produce baseline transport properties characteristic of restrictive barriers. Our results show 3.1-fold and 5.7-fold increases in endothelial L(p) for BAEC and BREC monolayers, respectively, at the end of 3 h of VEGF (100 ng/ml) exposure. HUVECs, however, showed no significant alteration in L(p) after 3 h (100 ng/ml) or 24 h (25 ng/ml) of incubation with VEGF even though they were responsive to the inflammatory mediators, thrombin (1 U/ml; 27-fold increase in L(p) in 25 min) and bradykinin (10 microM; 4-fold increase in L(p) in 20 min). Protein kinase C (PKC) and nitric oxide (NO) are downstream effectors of VEGF signaling. BAEC L(p) was responsive to activation of NO (SNAP) and PKC (PMA), whereas these agents had no effect in altering HUVEC L(p). Moreover, BAECs exposed to the PKC inhibitor, staurosporine (50 ng/ml), exhibited significant attenuation of VEGF-induced increase in L(p), but inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) with L-NMMA (100 microM) had no effect in altering the VEGF-induced increase in L(p). These data provide strong evidence that in BAECs, the VEGF-induced increase in L(p) is mediated by a PKC-dependent mechanism. Regarding diffusive albumin P(e), at the end of 3 h, BAECs and BRECs showed 6.0-fold and 9. 9-fold increases in P(e) in response to VEGF (100 ng/ml), whereas VEGF had no significant effect after 3 h (100 ng/ml) or 24 h (25 ng/ml) in changing HUVEC P(e). In summary, these data indicate that VEGF affects endothelial transport properties differently depending on the vessel type and that differences in cell signaling pathways underlie the differences in VEGF responsiveness.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.