Author(s): Siafakas CG, Anatolitou F, Fusunyan RD, Walker WA, Sanderson IR
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Abstract VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) is a multifunctional cytokine active on blood vessel cells. The present study measured VEGF in the aqueous phase of human milk and examined how the concentration varied with gestational age and the duration of lactation after birth. We hypothesized that VEGF-specific receptors were present on the apical surface of intestinal epithelial cells. The concentration of monomeric VEGF (containing 165 residues) measured by ELISA in the breast milk was 2 orders of magnitude greater than that measured in the serum of normal adults. The VEGF165 concentration in the first week of lactation was greater in the breast milk of mothers of full-term than in preterm babies (p < 0.05). The concentration in the breast milk of mothers of full-term infants decreased (p < 0.01) after the first week of lactation. Scatchard analysis of radioligand-receptor binding showed the presence of specific receptors for 125I-VEGF165 on the surface of Caco-2, an intestinal epithelial cell line, with a kd of 2.85 to 4 nM. Reverse transcriptase PCR of Caco-2 cell RNA showed mRNA for the VEGF receptor flt-1. In conclusion, VEGF is present in high concentrations in breast milk and binds to specific receptors on cells derived from intestinal epithelium.
This article was published in Pediatr Res
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology