Cyclical mechanical stretching increases the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in rat vascular smooth muscle cells

Kou Gi Shyu, Mei Lung Chang, Bao Wei Wang, Peiliang Kuan, Hang Chang

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose: Mechanical forces have profound effects on vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). The mechanism by which mechanical stimuli regulate vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression and regulation has yet to be elucidated. We investigated the effect of cyclical mechanical stretching on regulation of the VEGF gene in VSMCs. Materials and Methods: Cultured rat VSMCs grown on a flexible membrane base were stretched by applying a vacuum at 60 cycles/minute. VEGF concentration in the cultured media was determined by enzyme-linked immunoassay. VEGF gene expression was determined by Western blot and Northern blot. The location of VEGF in the VSMC was studied immunohistochemically. Chimeric constructs of the VEGF promoter were deleted and the promoter activity was determined by luciferase activity. Results: VEGF concentration increased by 21 to 32% as early as 10 minutes after stretching and remained at this level for up to 12 hours. The concentration of VEGF reached a maximum of 2.8-fold over that in control cells by 2 hours after stretching and declined slightly thereafter. The amount of VEGF mRNA in stretched cells increased as early as 1 hour after stretching, reached a maximum of 3.2-fold over the amount in control cells by 2 hours, and remained at this level for up to 6 hours after stretching. Immunohistochemical study confirmed increased VEGF expression in VSMCs after stretching. Stretched cells transfected with a Sac-Nhe fragment showed only 46% of the luciferase activity of unstretched control cells. However, stretched cells transfected with chimeric plasmids containing a Spe-Nhe fragment showed 2.8-fold luciferase activity over that in control cells. Conclusions: Cyclical mechanical stretching upregulates expression of the VEGF gene in VSMCs at the transcription level. The VEGF 5′-flanking region contains a negative stretch-response element located in the 0.4-kb Sac-Pst fragment and a positive stretch-response element located in the 0.6-kb Spe-Sac fragment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-747
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Formosan Medical Association = Taiwan yi zhi
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes



  • Cell culture
  • Gene expression
  • Smooth muscle cell
  • Stretching
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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