The growth of endogenous collateral arteries that bypass arterial occlusion(s), or arteriogenesis, is a fundamental shear stress-induced adaptation with implications for treating peripheral arterial disease. MicroRNAs (miRs) are key regulators of gene expression in response to injury and have strong therapeutic potential. In a previous study, we identified miR-146a as a candidate regulator of vascular remodeling. Here, we tested whether miR-146a regulates in vitro angiogenic endothelial cell (EC) behaviors, as well as perfusion recovery, arteriogenesis, and angiogenesis in response to femoral arterial ligation (FAL) in vivo. We found miR-146a inhibition impaired EC tube formation and migration in vitro. Following FAL, Balb/c mice were treated with a single, intramuscular injection of anti-miR-146a or scramble locked nucleic acid (LNA) oligonucleotides directly into the non-ischemic gracilis muscles. Serial laser Doppler imaging demonstrated that anti-miR-146a treated mice exhibited significantly greater perfusion recovery (a 16% increase) compared mice treated with scramble LNA. Moreover, anti-miR-146a treated mice exhibited a 22% increase in collateral artery diameter compared to controls, while there was no significant effect on in vivo angiogenesis or muscle regeneration. Despite exerting no beneficial effects on angiogenesis, the inhibition of mechanosensitive miR-146a enhances perfusion recovery after FAL via enhanced arteriogenesis.
Keywords: angiogenesis; arteriogenesis; endothelial cell; epigenetics; hindlimb ischemia; microRNA; peripheral arterial disease; shear stress.