Background: New revascularization therapies are urgently needed for patients with severe coronary heart disease who lack conventional treatment options.
Methods and results: We describe a new proangiogenic approach for these no-option patients using adenoviral (Ad) intramyocardial vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-B186 gene transfer, which induces myocardium-specific angiogenesis and arteriogenesis in pigs and rabbits. After acute infarction, AdVEGF-B186 increased blood vessel area, perfusion, ejection fraction, and collateral artery formation and induced changes toward an ischemia-resistant myocardial phenotype. Soluble VEGF receptor-1 and soluble neuropilin receptor-1 reduced the effects of AdVEGF-B186, whereas neither soluble VEGF receptor-2 nor inhibition of nitric oxide production had this result. The effects of AdVEGF-B186 involved activation of neuropilin receptor-1, which is highly expressed in the myocardium, via recruitment of G-protein-alpha interacting protein, terminus C (GIPC) and upregulation of G-protein-alpha interacting protein. AdVEGF-B186 also induced an antiapoptotic gene expression profile in cardiomyocytes and had metabolic effects by inducing expression of fatty acid transport protein-4 and lipid and glycogen accumulation in the myocardium.
Conclusions: VEGF-B186 displayed strikingly distinct effects compared with other VEGFs. These effects may be mediated at least in part via a G-protein signaling pathway. Tissue-specificity, high efficiency in ischemic myocardium, and induction of arteriogenesis and antiapoptotic and metabolic effects make AdVEGF-B186 a promising candidate for the treatment of myocardial ischemia.