Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) is a potent mitogen for vascular endothelial cells and exogenous administration of FGF2 stimulates angiogenesis. However, increased expression of FGF2 in the retina does not cause angiogenesis. One possible explanation is that FGF2 may not be capable of initiating angiogenesis unless it is administered in pharmacologic levels or there is coexpression of another angiogenic factor. Alternatively, there may be control mechanisms that sequester FGF2 in vivo, preventing it from manifesting its in vitro angiogenic activity. We tested the first hypothesis by crossing mice that express FGF2 in the retina with mice that express vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the retina. Surprisingly, despite comparable levels of VEGF expression, mice that expressed both FGF2 and VEGF had significantly less neovascularization than mice that expressed VEGF alone. The second hypothesis was tested by treating Rho/FGF2 transgenic mice with low-intensity laser photocoagulation that disrupts photoreceptors, but does not rupture Bruch's membrane, or intense laser that ruptures Bruch's membrane. In Rho/FGF2 transgenics, but not wild type mice, choroidal neovascularization developed in areas of low-intensity laser. Both wild type and transgenic mice developed choroidal neovascularization in areas of intense laser that ruptured Bruch's membrane, but the area of neovascularization was significantly greater in transgenics. These data suggest that increased retinal expression of FGF2 is angiogenic only when it is accompanied by cell injury that overcomes sequestration control mechanisms.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.