The neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is required for the maintenance of cardiac vessel wall stability during embryonic development through direct angiogenic actions on endothelial cells expressing the tropomysin receptor kinase B (TrkB). However, the role of BDNF and a related neurotrophin ligand, neurotrophin-4 (NT-4), in the regulation of revascularization of the adult tissues is unknown. To study the potential angiogenic capacity of BDNF in mediating the neovascularization of ischemic and non-ischemic adult mouse tissues, we utilized a hindlimb ischemia and a subcutaneous Matrigel model. Recruitment of endothelial cells and promotion of channel formation within the Matrigel plug by BDNF and NT-4 was comparable to that induced by VEGF-A. The introduction of BDNF into non-ischemic ears or ischemic limbs induced neoangiogenesis, with a 2-fold increase in the capillary density. Remarkably, treatment with BDNF progressively increased blood flow in the ischemic limb over 21 days, similar to treatment with VEGF-A. The mechanism by which BDNF enhances capillary formation is mediated in part through local activation of the TrkB receptor and also by recruitment of Sca-1+CD11b+ pro-angiogenic hematopoietic cells. BDNF induces a potent direct chemokinetic action on subsets of marrow-derived Sca-1+ hematopoietic cells co-expressing TrkB. These studies suggest that local regional delivery of BDNF may provide a novel mechanism for inducing neoangiogenesis through both direct actions on local TrkB-expressing endothelial cells in skeletal muscle and recruitment of specific subsets of TrkB+ bone marrow–derived hematopoietic cells to provide peri-endothelial support for the newly formed vessels.
Pouneh Kermani, Dahlia Rafii, David K. Jin, Paul Whitlock, Wendy Schaffer, Anne Chiang, Loic Vincent, Matthias Friedrich, Koji Shido, Neil R. Hackett, Ronald G. Crystal, Shahin Rafii, Barbara L. Hempstead