Acute Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Expression During Hypertrophy Is Muscle Phenotype Specific And Localizes As A Striated Pattern Within Fibres

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Experimental Physiology


Exercise Science


Skeletal muscle hypertrophy requires the co-ordinated expression of locally acting growth factors that promote myofibre growth and concurrent adaptive changes in the microvasculature. These studies tested the hypothesis that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (HB-EGF) expression are upregulated during the early stages of compensatory muscle growth induced by chronic functional overload (FO). Bilateral FO of the plantaris and soleus muscles was induced for 3 or 7 days in the hindlimbs of adult female Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 5 per group) and compared with control (non-FO) rats. Relative muscle mass (in mg (kg body weight)-1) increased by 18 and 24% after 3 days and by 20 and 33% after 7 days in the plantaris and soleus muscles, respectively. No differences in HB-EGF mRNA or protein were observed in either muscle of FO rats relative to control muscles. The VEGF mRNA was similar in the soleus muscles of FO and control rats, whereas a significant elevation occurred at 3 and 7 days of FO in the plantaris muscle. However, VEGF protein expression after 3 days of FO exhibited a differential response; expression in the soleus muscle decreased 1.6-fold, whereas that in the plantaris muscle increased 1.8-fold compared with the control muscle. After 7 days of FO, VEGF protein remained elevated within the plantaris muscle, but returned to basal levels in the soleus. Robust basal HB-EGF and VEGF protein expression was consistently seen in control muscles. In all groups, immunohistochemistry for VEGF protein displayed a distinct striated expression pattern within myofibres, with considerably less labelling in extracellular spaces. Constitutive expression of HB-EGF and VEGF in control myofibres is consistent with housekeeping roles for these growth factors in skeletal muscle tissue. However, the specific patterns of VEGF expression in these muscles during FO may reflect the chronic changes in neural recruitment between muscles and the co-ordination of angiogenic and/or other hypertrophic responses.