Increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and hypoxia inducible factor-1α in lung tissue of patients with chronic bronchitis

Clin Biochem. 2014 May;47(7-8):552-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2014.01.012. Epub 2014 Jan 21.


Objectives: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) seems to be involved in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but its site-specific expression in lung tissue and the relationship with hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) expression in chronic bronchitis (CB) type COPD have not been studied.

Design and methods: We evaluated the expression of VEGF and its receptors in various compartments of lung tissue in three groups: non-smokers with normal lung function (non-smokers, n=10), smokers without COPD (healthy smokers, n=10) and smokers with CB (CB, n=10), using immunohistochemical staining and Western blotting. The expression of HIF-1α was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Results: Compared with healthy smokers, VEGF expression in CB was significantly increased in bronchiolar epithelium, vascular endothelium and vascular smooth muscle (p<0.05). VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-2 expression in CB was also increased in bronchiolar smooth muscle, vascular endothelium and vascular smooth muscle compared with healthy smokers (p<0.05). The level of HIF-1α was increased in CB compared with healthy smokers and positively correlated with those of VEGF (r=0.64, p<0.05).

Conclusion: VEGF and VEGFR-2 expressions were up-regulated in CB and increased expression of VEGF was related with HIF-1α. HIF-1α-regulated VEGF overexpression may be a characteristic of chronic bronchitis.

Keywords: Chronic bronchitis; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Smoking; Vascular endothelial growth factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blotting, Western
  • Bronchitis, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism*
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism*


  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A