Predictive Approach Identifies Molecular Targets and Interventions to Restore Angiogenesis in Wounds With Delayed Healing

Front Physiol. 2019 May 28;10:636. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00636. eCollection 2019.


Impaired angiogenesis is a hallmark of wounds with delayed healing, and currently used therapies to restore angiogenesis have limited efficacy. Here, we employ a computational simulation-based approach to identify influential molecular and cellular processes, as well as protein targets, whose modulation may stimulate angiogenesis in wounds. We developed a mathematical model that captures the time courses for platelets, 9 cell types, 29 proteins, and oxygen, which are involved in inflammation, proliferation, and angiogenesis during wound healing. We validated our model using previously published experimental data. By performing global sensitivity analysis on thousands of simulated wound-healing scenarios, we identified six processes (among the 133 modeled in total) whose modulation may improve angiogenesis in wounds. By simulating knockouts of 25 modeled proteins and by simulating different wound-oxygenation levels, we identified four proteins [namely, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2), and angiopoietin-2 (ANG-2)], as well as oxygen, as therapeutic targets for stimulating angiogenesis in wounds. Our modeling results indicated that simultaneous inhibition of TGF-β and supplementation of either FGF-2 or ANG-2 could be more effective in stimulating wound angiogenesis than the modulation of either protein alone. Our findings suggest experimentally testable intervention strategies to restore angiogenesis in wounds with delayed healing.

Keywords: angiogenesis; computational analysis; endothelial cells; vascular endothelial growth factor; wound healing.