Author(s): Soini Y, Salo T, Satta J
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Abstract Angiogenesis is an essential biological process not only in embryogenesis, but also in the progression of several major diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and inflammation. Excessive vascularization can also contribute to some cardiovascular pathologies, such as atherosclerosis, but contradictory reports still prevail regarding its impact on aortic stenosis. Using immunohistochemical techniques, we assessed the vascular density and distribution of angiogenesis (FVIII) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression as well as the expression of 2 VEGF receptors, Flt-1 and Flk-1, in 55 nonrheumatic and 6 control aortic valves. In the light of the fact that the angiogenic effect of VEGF is mediated by sustained formation of nitric oxide, the samples were also immunostained with 3 nitric oxide synthase (eNOS, iNOS, and nNOS) antibodies. The immunohistochemical findings of VEGF and its receptors were verified by immunoblotting techniques. Vascular density was highest in the cases with moderate valve stenosis, and the mean number of FVIII-positive blood vessels was 1.7 +/- 1.9 vessels/mm(2) in the diseased valves, whereas the normal valves contained no blood vessels. Vascular density was significantly higher in the cases showing chronic inflammation (P = 0.007). Interestingly, the patients receiving statin therapy had significantly lower vascular densities than those not receiving such therapy (P = 0.001). Diseased valves showed distinct VEGF, Flt-1, Flk-1, and eNOS positivity of activated endothelial, stromal fusiform myofibroblastic, and histocytic cells. In contrast, immunoreactivity for iNOS and nNOS was seen only in nonendothelial stromal cells, and their expression was weaker. Enhanced vascular density was significantly associated with increased expression of Flk-1 (P = 0.028 for endothelial and P = 0.009 for stromal cells) and with endothelial eNOS expression (P = 0.024). A similar tendency was also observed for VEGF, but not for Flt-1. Our results show a distinct angiogenic response and the presence of angiogenic factors in nonrheumatic aortic valve stenosis, suggesting that angiogenesis may influence on the evolution of this disease.
This article was published in Hum Pathol
and referenced in Journal of Nephrology & Therapeutics