Sildenafil-Induced Revascularization of Rat Hindlimb Involves Arteriogenesis through PI3K/AKT and eNOS Activation
Abstract: Hypoxia and inflammation play a major role in revascularization following ischemia. Sildenafil inhibits phosphodiesterase-5, increases intracellular cGMP and induces revascularization through a pathway which remains incompletely understood. Thus, we investigated the effect of sildenafil on post-ischemic revascularization. The left femoral artery was ligated in control and sildenafil-treated (25 mg/kg per day) rats. Vascular density was evaluated and expressed as the left/right leg (L/R) ratio. In control rats, L/R ratio was 33 ± 2% and 54 ± 9%, at 7- and 21-days post-ligation, respectively, and was significantly increased in sildenafil-treated rats to 47 ± 4% and 128 ± 11%, respectively. A neutralizing anti-VEGF antibody significantly decreased vascular density (by 0.48-fold) in control without effect in sildenafil-treated animals. Blood flow and arteriolar density followed the same pattern. In the ischemic leg, HIF-1α and VEGF expression levels increased in control, but not in sildenafil–treated rats, suggesting that sildenafil did not induce angiogenesis. PI3-kinase, Akt and eNOS increased after 7 days, with down-regulation after 21 days. Sildenafil induced outward remodeling or arteriogenesis in mesenteric resistance arteries in association with eNOS protein activation. We conclude that sildenafil treatment increased tissue blood flow and arteriogenesis independently of VEGF, but in association with PI3-kinase, Akt and eNOS activation.
Keywords: remodeling / vasodilation / VEGF / sildenafil / neovascularization
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