Vascular endothelial growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor are found in resolving venous thrombi

J Vasc Surg. 2000 Nov;32(5):988-96. doi: 10.1067/mva.2000.110882.


Objective: Resolution of venous thrombi is accompanied by an ingrowth of capillaries, which appears to be analogous to angiogenesis in other tissues. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) are major regulators of angiogenesis. The aim of this study was to determine the temporal changes and the location of VEGF and bFGF expression in a rat model of venous thrombus resolution.

Design and methods: Thrombi were induced in the inferior venae cavae of rats by creating a stenosis to reduce blood flow by 80% to 90%. Thrombi, adjacent inferior vena cava wall, and systemic blood were collected at 1, 3, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days after thrombus generation (n = 9). Sham operations were performed (n = 5), and blood was collected at 1, 3, and 7 days. VEGF and bFGF were measured with specific immunoassays, and levels in tissues were expressed as picogram per milligram soluble protein. Tissues from two animals that were humanely killed 7 days after thrombus formation were prepared for histological examination. Immunohistochemistry was performed by the use of antibodies against VEGF, bFGF, and ED-1 (a monocyte/macrophage marker).

Results: Laminated thrombi were reliably produced with a median weight at 1 day of 39 mg (range, 23-63 mg). There was a significant increase in thrombus VEGF concentration between 1 day (median, 247; range, 0-514) and 7 days (median, 556; range, 254-1741) (P =.02). There was no difference between the seventh day and subsequent days. There was a positive linear correlation between thrombus bFGF concentration and time (R = 0.74, P <.0001), with a more than 300-fold increase in bFGF concentration over the 28 days of the study. VEGF and bFGF concentrations in the adjacent vena caval wall did not change significantly with time. The serum VEGF was significantly raised at 1 day (median, 5520 pg/mL; range, 4040-7912 pg/mL) and 3 days (median, 3880 pg/mL; range, 2564-7232 pg/mL) compared with 7 days (median, 1790 pg/mL; range, 232-3228 pg/mL) (P <.0001). Similar changes in the serum VEGF also developed in the sham-operated animals. The serum bFGF (day 1 median, 15.5 pg/mL; range, 1-42 pg/mL) did not change with time. Immunohistochemistry showed that the VEGF antigen was localized to monocytes, endothelial cells, and spindle-shaped cells within the thrombus. The bFGF antigen was localized to mononuclear cells and spindle-shaped cells and was also present in the extracellular matrix.

Conclusion: VEGF and bFGF are found in organizing thrombi and have characteristic temporal expression patterns, which suggest that they have a role in thrombus resolution. Augmenting angiogenic growth factor expression may enhance thrombus recanalization, thus reducing long-term complications.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / analysis*
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / blood
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / analysis*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / blood
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphokines / analysis*
  • Lymphokines / blood
  • Male
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Probability
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Vena Cava, Inferior / metabolism
  • Vena Cava, Inferior / pathology
  • Venous Thrombosis / blood*
  • Venous Thrombosis / pathology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Lymphokines
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2