Aims: Nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a key cytoprotective transcription factor, regulates also proangiogenic mediators, interleukin-8 and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). However, hitherto its role in blood vessel formation was modestly examined. Particularly, although Nrf2 was shown to affect hematopoietic stem cells, it was not tested in bone marrow-derived proangiogenic cells (PACs). Here we investigated angiogenic properties of Nrf2 in PACs, endothelial cells, and inflammation-related revascularization.
Results: Treatment of endothelial cells with angiogenic cytokines increased nuclear localization of Nrf2 and induced expression of HO-1. Nrf2 activation stimulated a tube network formation, while its inhibition decreased angiogenic response of human endothelial cells, the latter effect reversed by overexpression of HO-1. Moreover, lack of Nrf2 attenuated survival, proliferation, migration, and angiogenic potential of murine PACs and affected angiogenic transcriptome in vitro. Additionally, angiogenic capacity of PAC Nrf2(-/-) in in vivo Matrigel assay and PAC mobilization in response to hind limb ischemia of Nrf2(-/-) mice were impaired. Despite that, restoration of blood flow in Nrf2-deficient ischemic muscles was better and accompanied by increased oxidative stress and inflammatory response. Accordingly, the anti-inflammatory agent etodolac tended to diminish blood flow in the Nrf2(-/-) mice.
Innovation: Identification of a novel role of Nrf2 in angiogenic signaling of endothelial cells and PACs.
Conclusion: Nrf2 contributes to angiogenic potential of both endothelial cells and PACs; however, its deficiency increases muscle blood flow under tissue ischemia. This might suggest a proangiogenic role of inflammation in the absence of Nrf2 in vivo, concomitantly undermining the role of PACs in such conditions.