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A Journal on Vascular and Endovascular Surgery

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
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Giornale Italiano di Chirurgia Vascolare 2001 June;8(2):77-85

language: English, Italian

Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) expression in carotid atherosclerotic lesions

Porcelli B., Frosi B., Terzuoli L., Arezzini L., Giubbolini M. *, Cappelli A. *, Palasciano G. *, Marinello E., Setacci C. *

Institute of Biochemistry and Enzymology,
* Department, Unit and Specialisation School in Vascular Surgery University of Siena, Siena, Italy


Background. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an important angiogenic factor reported to enhance vascular permeability and induce migration and proliferation of endothelial cells. Recent studies have demonstrated VEGF in human atherosclerotic lesions in several types of arteries. We analysed VEGF expression in carotid artery plaque to study its role also in this artery district. We also assayed VEGF in plasma from the same subjects to compare its content with that of atherosclerotic lesions.
Methods. Carotid artery plaque and plasma were obtained from 58 patients undergoing carotid endoarterectomy. Twenty of these subjects were symptomatic and 38 were asymptomatic. Thirty-two carotid arteries had stenosis >70%, 26 had a stenosis between 60 and 70%. Carotid artery plaque were characterised by eco colour-Doppler. An immunoenzymatic method was used for VEGF analysis.
Results. Plaque VEGF levels were significantly higher than plasma levels (p<0.01). Statistical analysis showed no correlation between VEGF plaque levels and VEGF plasma levels.
Conclusions. We assayed VEGF in carotid artery plaque for the first time. Recently, VEGF has been promoted as a potential new therapeutic agent for occlusive vascular diseases. Our observations suggest caution in the administration of VEGF because it could play a role in atherogenesis.

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