Background: Therapeutic angiogenesis is a promising approach for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, including myocardial infarction and chronic heart failure. We aimed to improve proangiogenic therapies by identifying novel arteriogenic growth factor combinations, developing injectable delivery systems for spatiotemporally controlled growth factor release, and evaluating functional consequences of targeted intramyocardial growth factor delivery in chronic heart failure.
Methods and results: First, we observed that fibroblast growth factor and hepatocyte growth factor synergistically stimulate vascular cell migration and proliferation in vitro. Using 2 in vivo angiogenesis assays (n=5 mice per group), we found that the growth factor combination results in a more potent and durable angiogenic response than either growth factor used alone. Furthermore, we determined that the molecular mechanisms involve potentiation of Akt and mitogen-activated protein kinase signal transduction pathways, as well as upregulation of angiogenic growth factor receptors. Next, we developed crosslinked albumin-alginate microcapsules that sequentially release fibroblast growth factor-2 and hepatocyte growth factor. Finally, in a rat model of chronic heart failure induced by coronary ligation (n=14 to 15 rats per group), we found that intramyocardial slow release of fibroblast growth factor-2 with hepatocyte growth factor potently stimulates angiogenesis and arteriogenesis and prevents cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis, as determined by immunohistochemistry, leading to improved cardiac perfusion after 3 months, as shown by magnetic resonance imaging. These multiple beneficial effects resulted in reduced adverse cardiac remodeling and improved left ventricular function, as revealed by echocardiography.
Conclusion: Our data showing the selective advantage of using fibroblast growth factor-2 together with hepatocyte growth factor suggest that this growth factor combination may constitute an efficient novel treatment for chronic heart failure.