Modified VEGF-A mRNA induces sustained multifaceted microvascular response and accelerates diabetic wound healing

Sci Rep. 2018 Nov 30;8(1):17509. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35570-6.


Capable of mediating efficient transfection and protein production without eliciting innate immune responses, chemically modified mRNA holds great potential to produce paracrine factors at a physiologically beneficial level, in a spatiotemporally controlled manner, and with low toxicity. Although highly promising in cardiovascular medicine and wound healing, effects of this emerging therapeutic on the microvasculature and its bioactivity in disease settings remain poorly understood. Here, we longitudinally and comprehensively characterize microvascular responses to AZD8601, a modified mRNA encoding vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), in vivo. Using multi-parametric photoacoustic microscopy, we show that intradermal injection of AZD8601 formulated in a biocompatible vehicle results in pronounced, sustained and dose-dependent vasodilation, blood flow upregulation, and neovessel formation, in striking contrast to those induced by recombinant human VEGF-A protein, a non-translatable variant of AZD8601, and citrate/saline vehicle. Moreover, we evaluate the bioactivity of AZD8601 in a mouse model of diabetic wound healing in vivo. Using a boron nanoparticle-based tissue oxygen sensor, we show that sequential dosing of AZD8601 improves vascularization and tissue oxygenation of the wound bed, leading to accelerated re-epithelialization during the early phase of diabetic wound healing.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / diagnostic imaging
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / etiology*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microvessels / drug effects
  • Microvessels / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / diagnostic imaging
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • Time-Lapse Imaging
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects
  • Wound Healing / genetics*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A