[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The guanylyl cyclases, GC-A and GC-B, are selective receptors for atrial and C-type natriuretic peptides (ANP and CNP, respectively). In the anterior pituitary, CNP and GC-B are major regulators of cGMP production in gonadotropes and yet mouse models of disrupted CNP and GC-B indicate a potential role in growth hormone secretion. In the current study, we investigate the molecular and pharmacological properties of the CNP/GC-B system in somatotrope lineage cells. Primary rat pituitary and GH3 somatolactotropes expressed functional GC-A and GC-B receptors that had similar EC50 properties in terms of cGMP production. Interestingly, GC-B signaling underwent rapid homologous desensitization in a protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A)-dependent manner. Chronic exposure to either CNP or ANP caused a significant down-regulation of both GC-A- and GC-B-dependent cGMP accumulation in a ligand-specific manner. However, this down-regulation was not accompanied by alterations in the sub-cellular localization of these receptors. Heterologous desensitization of GC-B signaling occurred in GH3 cells following exposure to either sphingosine-1-phosphate or thyrotrophin-releasing hormone (TRH). This heterologous desensitization was protein kinase C (PKC)-dependent, as pre-treatment with GF109203X prevented the effect of TRH on CNP/GC-B signaling. Collectively, these data indicate common and distinct properties of particulate guanylyl cyclase receptors in somatotropes and reveal that independent mechanisms of homologous and heterologous desensitization occur involving either PP2A or PKC. Guanylyl cyclase receptors thus represent potential novel therapeutic targets for treating growth-hormone-associated disorders.
Cell and Tissue Research 12/2013; · 3.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adenosine is released from the myocar- dium, endothelial cells, and skeletal muscle in ischemia and is an important regulator of coronary blood flow. We have already shown that acute (2 min) activation of A2a purinoceptors stimulates NO production in human fetal umbilical vein endothelial cells (1) and now report a key role for p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein ki- nases (p42/p44MAPK) in the regulation of the L-argi- nine-nitric oxide (NO) signaling pathway. Expression of mRNA for the A2a-, A2b-, and A3-adenosine receptor subtypes was abundant whereas A1-adenosine receptor mRNA levels were negligible. Activation of A2a purino- ceptors by adenosine (10 M) or the A2a receptor agonist CGS21680 (100 nM) resulted in an increase in L-arginine transport and NO release that was not medi- ated by changes in intracellular Ca2, pH, or cAMP. Stimulation of endothelial cells with adenosine was associated with a membrane hyperpolarization and phosphorylation of p42/p44MAPK. L-NAME abolished the adenosine-induced hyperpolarization and stimula- tion of L-arginine transport whereas sodium nitroprus- side activated an outward potassium current. Genistein (10 M) and PD98059 (10 M), an inhibitor of MAPK kinase 1/2 (MEK1/2), inhibited adenosine-stimulated L-arginine transport, NO production, and phosphoryla- tion of p42/p44MAPK. We found no evidence for acti-
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Blood levels of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TRL), increase postprandially, and a delay in their clearance results in postprandial hyperlipidemia, an important risk factor in atherosclerosis development. Atherosclerosis is a multifactorial inflammatory disease, and its initiation involves endothelial dysfunction, invasion of the artery wall by leukocytes and subsequent formation of foam cells.. TRL are implicated in several of these inflammatory processes, including the formation of damaging free radicals, leukocyte activation, endothelial dysfunction and foam cell formation. Recent studies have provided insights into the mechanisms of uptake and the signal transduction pathways mediating the interactions of TRL with leukocytes and vascular cells, and how they are modified by dietary lipids. Multiple receptor and non-receptor mediated pathways function in macrophage uptake of TRL by macrophages. TRL also induce expression of adhesion molecules, cyclooxygenase-2 and heme-oxygenase-1 in endothelial cells, and activate intracellular signalling pathways involving mitogen-activated protein kinases, NF-κB and Nrf2. Many of these effects are strongly influenced by dietary components carried in TRL. There is extensive evidence indicating that raised postprandial TRL levels are a risk factor for atherosclerosis, but the molecular mechanisms involved are only now becoming appreciated. Here, we review current understanding of the mechanisms by which TRL influence vascular cell function.
Progress in lipid research 06/2013; · 10.67 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Following islet transplantation, islet graft revascularization is compromised due to loss of endothelial cells (ECs) during islet culture. TGF-β signaling pathways are essential for vascular homeostasis but their importance for islet EC function is unclear. We have identified a population of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) within islets and investigated how modulation of TGF-β signaling by these cells influences islet EC viability. Cultured islets exhibited reduced expression of EC markers (VEGFR2; VE-cadherin; CD31) which was associated with diminished but sustained expression of endoglin a marker of both ECs and MSCs. Double fluorescent labelling of islets in situ with the EC marker CD31 disclosed a population of CD31-negative cells which were positive for endoglin. In vitro co-culture of microvascular ECs with endoglin-positive, CD31-negative islet MSCs reduced VEGFR2 protein expression, disrupted EC angiogenic behaviour and increased EC detachment. Medium conditioned by islet MSCs significantly decreased EC viability and increased EC caspase 3/7 activity. EC:MSC co-cultures showed enhanced Smad2 phosphorylation consistent with altered ALK5 signalling. Pharmacological inhibition of ALK5 activity with SB431542 (SB) improved EC survival upon contact with MSCs, and SB-treated cultured islets retained EC marker expression and sensitivity to exogenous VEGF(164) . Thus, endoglin-expressing islet MSCs influence EC ALK5 signalling in vitro, which decreases EC viability, and changes in ALK5 activity in whole cultured islets contribute to islet EC loss. Modifying TGF-β signalling may enable maintenance of islet ECs during islet isolation and thus improve islet graft revascularization post-transplantation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP/Nppc) is expressed at high levels in the anterior pituitary of rats and mice and activates guanylyl cyclase B receptors (GC-B/Npr2) to regulate hormone secretion. Mutations in NPR2/Npr2 can cause achondroplasia, GH deficiency, and female infertility, yet the normal expression profile within the anterior pituitary remains to be established in humans. The current study examined the expression profile and transcriptional regulation of NPR2 and GC-B protein in normal human fetal pituitaries, normal adult pituitaries, and human pituitary adenomas using RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. Transcriptional regulation of human NPR2 promoter constructs was characterized in anterior pituitary cell lines of gonadotroph, somatolactotroph, and corticotroph origin. NPR2 was detected in all human fetal and adult pituitary samples regardless of age or sex, as well as in all adenoma samples examined regardless of tumor origin. GC-B immunoreactivity was variable in normal pituitary, gonadotrophinomas, and somatotrophinomas. Maximal transcriptional regulation of the NPR2 promoter mapped to a region within -214 bp upstream of the start site in all anterior pituitary cell lines examined. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays revealed that this region contains Sp1/Sp3 response elements. These data are the first to show NPR2 expression in normal human fetal and adult pituitaries and adenomatous pituitary tissue and suggest a role for these receptors in both pituitary development and oncogenesis, introducing a new target to manipulate these processes in pituitary adenomas.
Endocrine Related Cancer 05/2012; 19(4):497-508. · 5.26 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Atherosclerosis is known to be an inflammatory disease and there is increasing evidence that chylomicron remnants (CMR), the lipoproteins which carry dietary fats in the blood, cause macrophage foam cell formation and inflammation. In early atherosclerosis the frequency of activated monocytes in the peripheral circulation is increased, and clearance of CMR from blood may be delayed, however, whether CMR contribute directly to monocyte activation and subsequent egress into the arterial wall has not been established. Here, the contribution of CMR to activation of monocyte pro-inflammatory pathways was assessed using an in vitro model.
Primary human monocytes and CMR-like particles (CRLP) were used to measure several endpoints of monocyte activation. Treatment with CRLP caused rapid and prolonged generation of reactive oxygen species by monocytes. The pro-inflammatory chemokines MCP-1 and IL-8 were secreted in nanogram quantities by the cells in the absence of CRLP. IL-8 secretion was transiently increased after CRLP treatment, and CRLP maintained secretion in the presence of pharmacological inhibitors of IL-8 production. In contrast, exposure to CRLP significantly reduced MCP-1 secretion. Chemotaxis towards MCP-1 was increased in monocytes pre-exposed to CRLP and was reversed by addition of exogenous MCP-1.
Our findings indicate that CRLP activate human monocytes and augment their migration in vitro by reducing cellular MCP-1 expression. Our data support the current hypothesis that CMR contribute to the inflammatory milieu of the arterial wall in early atherosclerosis, and suggest that this may reflect direct interaction with circulating blood monocytes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Surgical attenuation of a congenital portosystemic shunt (CPSS) results in increased liver mass, development of intrahepatic portal vasculature and improved liver function. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key regulator of angiogenesis. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of VEGF and its receptor in the hepatic response to CPSS surgery. The study included 99 dogs with CPSS treated with either partial or complete suture attenuation. Forty-four dogs with partial attenuation underwent a second surgery for complete attenuation. The expression of VEGF and VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) in biopsy samples of liver was assessed by immunohistochemistry with rabbit anti-human VEGF polyclonal antibody and mouse anti-human VEGFR2 monoclonal antibody. Expression of these molecules was graded. The proportion of samples expressing VEGF was significantly greater in samples from dogs with CPSS compared with control samples (P=0.04) and the proportion of samples expressing VEGFR2 was significantly greater in control samples compared with samples from dogs with CPSS (P=0.04). VEGF labelling grade decreased significantly (P=0.038) and VEGFR2 increased significantly (P=0.046) between first and second surgery. The decrease in VEGF may reflect transient expression, preferential expression of other factors, reperfusion of existing vessels and/or increased angiogenesis before surgery in the form of arterialization and subsequent reduction due to improved portal blood flow. Partial suture attenuation was associated with a degree of 'normalization' of VEGF and VEGFR2 expression when compared with the control samples. Further investigation is needed to provide more information on the hepatic response to CPSS surgery.
Journal of comparative pathology 10/2011; 147(1):55-61. · 1.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current evidence suggests that consumption of virgin olive oil (VOO) helps to protect against the development of atherosclerosis and that minor components such as oleanolic acid contribute to this effect. In this study, the effects of triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins (TRLs) derived from olive oil on inflammatory processes in macrophages and how they are modulated by oleanolic acid was investigated.
TRLs isolated from healthy volunteers 2 and 4 h after a test meal containing VOO, pomace olive oil (POO) (the second pressing of olive oil, enriched in minor components) or POO enriched with oleanolic acid (OPOO) were incubated with macrophages derived from the human monocyte cell line, THP-1.
All types of TRLs caused a decrease of about 50% in the secretion of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) by the cells. Interleukin (IL)-6 secretion was also significantly decreased by 2 and 4 h VOO TRLs and by 4 h OPOO TRLs. In contrast, increased IL-1β secretion was observed with all 2 h TRL types, and increased tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) production with 2 h VOO and POO, but not OPOO, TRLs. TRLs isolated after 4 h, however, had no significant effects on TNF-α secretion and increased IL-1β secretion only when they were derived from VOO. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) mRNA expression was strongly down-regulated by all types of TRLs, but protein expression was significantly depressed only by 4 h OPOO TRLs.
These findings demonstrate that TRLs derived from olive oil influence inflammatory processes in macrophages and suggest that oleanolic acid may have beneficial effects.
European Journal of Nutrition 06/2011; 51(3):301-9. · 3.13 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are critical for extracellular matrix (ECM) integrity in cartilage but mechanisms regulating their synthesis are not defined. UDP-glucose dehydrogenase (UGDH) catalyses UDP-glucose oxidation to UDP-glucuronic acid, an essential monosaccharide in many GAGs. Our previous studies in articular surface (AS) cells from embryonic joints have established pivotal roles for mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) in synthesis of the unsulfated GAG, hyaluronan (HA). We investigated the functional significance of UGDH in GAG production and chondrogenesis, and determined roles for MEK-ERK and p38MAPK pathways in regulating UGDH expression and function. Inhibitors of MEK and p38MAPK reduced UGDH protein in AS cells. Treatment with TGF-β (archetypal growth factor) increased UGDH expression, sulfated (s)-GAG/HA release and pericellular matrix formation in a p38MAPK-dependent manner. Retroviral overexpression of UGDH augmented HA/sGAG release and pericellular matrix elaboration, which were blocked by inhibiting MEK but not p38MAPK. UGDH overexpression increased cartilage nodule size in bone marrow culture, promoted chondrogenesis in limb bud micromass culture and selectively suppressed medium HA levels and modified GAG sulfation, as assessed by FACE analysis. Our data provide evidence that: (i) TGF-β regulates UGDH expression via p38MAPK to modulate sGAG/HA secretion, (ii) MEK-ERK, but not p38MAPK facilitates UGDH-induced HA and sGAG release, and (iii) increased UGDH expression promotes chondrogenesis directly and differential modifies GAG levels and sulfation. These results indicate a more diverse role for UGDH in the support of selective GAG production than previously described. Factors regulating UGDH may provide novel candidates for restoring ECM integrity in degenerative cartilage diseases, such as osteoarthritis.Arthritis Research Campaign.
Journal of Cellular Physiology 03/2011; 226(3):749-61. · 4.22 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Secretion of pro-inflammatory chemokines and cytokines by macrophages is a contributory factor in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. In this study, the effects of chylomicron remnants (CMR), the lipoproteins which transport dietary fat in the blood, on the production of pro-inflammatory chemokine and cytokine secretion by macrophages was investigated using CMR-like particles (CRLPs) together with THP-1 macrophages or primary human macrophages (HMDM). Incubation of CRLPs or oxidized CRLPs (oxCRLPs) with HMDM or THP-1 macrophages for up to 24h led to a marked decrease in the secretion of the pro-inflammatory chemokine monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-1β (-50-90%), but these effects were reduced or abolished when CRLPs protected from oxidation by incorporation of the antioxidant drug, probucol, (pCRLPs) were used. In macrophages transfected with siRNA targeted to the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLr), neither CRLPs nor pCRLPs had any significant effect on chemokine/cytokine secretion, but in cells transfected with siRNA targeted to the LDLr-related protein 1 (LRP1) both types of particles inhibited secretion to a similar extent to that observed with CRLPs in mock transfected cells. These findings demonstrate that macrophage pro-inflammatory chemokine/cytokine secretion is down-regulated by CMR, and that these effects are positively related to the lipoprotein oxidative state. Furthermore, uptake via the LDLr is required for the down-regulation, while uptake via LRP1 does not bring about this effect. Thus, the receptor-mediated route of uptake of CMR plays a crucial role in modulating their effects on inflammatory processes in macrophages.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 03/2011; 1811(3):209-20. · 4.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 4-Methylumbelliferone (4-MU) is described as a selective inhibitor of hyaluronan (HA) production. It is thought that 4-MU depletes UDP-glucuronic acid (UDP-GlcUA) substrate for HA synthesis and also suppresses HA-synthase expression. The possibility that 4-MU exerts at least some of its actions via regulation of UDP-glucose dehydrogenase (UGDH), a key enzyme required for both HA and sulphated-glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) production, remains unexplored. We therefore examined the effects of 4-MU on basal and retroviral UGDH-driven HA and sGAG release in cells derived from chick articular cartilage and its influence upon UGDH protein and mRNA expression and HA and sGAG production. We found that 4-MU: i) suppressed UGDH mRNA and protein expression and chondrogenic matrix accumulation in chick limb bud micromass culture, ii) significantly reduced both HA and sGAG production and iii) more selectively reversed the potentiating effects of UGDH overexpression on the production of HA than sGAG. Understanding how GAG synthesis is controlled and the mechanism of 4-MU action may inform its future clinical success.
Matrix biology: journal of the International Society for Matrix Biology 02/2011; 30(3):163-8. · 3.56 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The adipocyte-derived hormone leptin influences the behaviour of a wide range of cell types and is now recognised as a pro-angiogenic and pro-inflammatory factor. In the vasculature, these effects are mediated in part through its direct leptin receptor (ObRb)-driven actions on endothelial cells (ECs) but the mechanisms responsible for these activities have not been established. In this study we sought to more fully define the molecular links between inflammatory and angiogenic responses of leptin-stimulated human ECs.
Immunoblotting studies showed that leptin increased cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression (but not COX-1) in cultured human umbilical vein ECs (HUVEC) through pathways that depend upon activation of both p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38(MAPK)) and Akt, and stimulated rapid phosphorylation of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) on Tyr(1175). Phosphorylation of VEGFR2, p38(MAPK) and Akt, and COX-2 induction in cells challenged with leptin were blocked by a specific leptin peptide receptor antagonist. Pharmacological inhibitors of COX-2, the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway and p38(MAPK) abrogated leptin-induced EC proliferation (assessed by quantifying 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine incorporation, calcein fluorescence and propidium iodide staining), slowed the increased migration rate of leptin-stimulated cells (in vitro wound healing assay) and inhibited leptin-induced capillary-like tube formation by HUVEC on Matrigel. Inhibition of VEGFR2 tyrosine kinase activity reduced leptin-stimulated p38(MAPK) and Akt activation, COX-2 induction, and pro-angiogenic EC responses, and blockade of VEGFR2 or COX-2 activities abolished leptin-driven neo-angiogenesis in a chick chorioallantoic membrane vascularisation assay in vivo.
We conclude that a functional endothelial p38(MAPK)/Akt/COX-2 signalling axis is required for leptin's pro-angiogenic actions and that this is regulated upstream by ObRb-dependent activation of VEGFR2. These studies identify a new function for VEGFR2 as a mediator of leptin-stimulated COX-2 expression and angiogenesis and have implications for understanding leptin's regulation of the vasculature in both non-obese and obese individuals.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(4):e18823. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Micromolar concentrations of the proangiogenic metabolite deoxyribose-1-phosphate (dRP) were detected in platelet supernatants by mass spectrometry. In this study, we assessed whether the release of dRP by platelets stimulates endothelial cell migration and angiogenesis.
Protein-free supernatants from thrombin-stimulated platelets increased human umbilical vein endothelial cell migratory activity in transmigration and monolayer repair assays. This phenomenon was ablated by genetic silencing of dRP-generating uridine phosphorylase (UP) and thymidine phosphorylase (TP) or pharmacological inhibition of UP and restored by exogenous dRP. The stimulation of endothelial cell migration by platelet-derived dRP correlated with upregulation of integrin β(3), which was induced in a reactive oxygen species-dependent manner, and was mediated by the activity of the integrin heterodimer α(v)β(3). The physiological relevance of dRP release by platelets was confirmed in a chick chorioallantoic membrane assay, where the presence of this metabolite in platelet supernatants strongly induced capillary formation.
Platelet-derived dRP stimulates endothelial cell migration by upregulating integrin β(3) in a reactive oxygen species-dependent manner. As demonstrated by our in vivo experiments, this novel paracrine regulatory pathway is likely to play an important role in the stimulation of angiogenesis by platelets.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The endothelial glycocalyx (EG) is an extracellular matrix (ECM) coating the luminal surface of the vascular endothelium. Hyaluronan (HA), a glycosaminoglycan, is an important constituent of the EG that regulates inflammation and repair. By providing a direct link between the endothelium and its ECM, HA contributes to maintaining glycocalyx integrity; emerging evidence indicates a close association between EG deterioration, concomitant loss of HA and the onset of endothelial dysfunction, a phenomenon that is involved in many disorders, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia. This review provides an overview of glycocalyx modification by pathological stimuli and considers the potential of the pharmacological targeting of HA synthesis and binding to limit endothelial dysfunction and to improve vasculoprotection.
Current opinion in investigational drugs (London, England: 2000) 09/2010; 11(9):997-1006. · 3.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endothelial dysfunction is characterised by pro-inflammatory/pro-coagulant changes in the endothelium and supports leukocyte adhesion and transmigration, key steps in early atherogenesis. There is emerging evidence that triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins (TGRLs) present in the circulation during the postprandial phase influence vascular inflammation but the specific contribution of the remnant lipoprotein component of TGRLs is largely unexplored and the mechanistic basis of their actions poorly defined. This article provides a brief overview of the evidence supporting direct actions of these particles on endothelial cells and highlights the importance of their fatty acid composition and oxidative state as determinants of their cellular actions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) provide important control of pain and inflammation, they have been overshadowed by concerns regarding atherothrombotic complications. However, celecoxib seems to have a relatively good cardiovascular profile and may improve endothelial function in coronary heart disease. This led us to the hypothesis that celecoxib induces the vasculoprotective enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). In human umbilical vein and aortic endothelial cells, 24-48 h treatment with celecoxib induced HO-1 mRNA and protein expression and increased HO-1 enzyme activity. This effect was not seen with rofecoxib or indomethacin. Supplementation of culture medium with iloprost or prostaglandin E(2) failed to reverse celecoxib-mediated HO-1 induction, indicating a cyclooxygenase-independent mechanism. Rather, this action of celecoxib involved generation of mitochondria-derived reactive oxygen species, Akt phosphorylation, and nuclear translocation of the transcription factor Nrf2, with N-acetylcysteine, PI-3K antagonist LY290042, and dominant-negative Akt abrogating the effects. Furthermore, celecoxib-induced HO-1 was inhibited by dominant-negative Nrf2. The functional significance of HO-1 induction was revealed by celecoxib-mediated inhibition of VCAM-1 expression, a response reversed by the HO-1 antagonist zinc protoporphyrin. HO-1 induction provides a molecular mechanism for clinical observations indicating relative freedom from atherothrombotic complications in patients taking celecoxib compared to other NSAIDs with comparable anti-inflammatory activity.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Healthy follicles are highly vascularized whereas those undergoing atresia have poor vascularity, suggesting a relationship between follicular vascularization and follicular function. Vascularization is regulated by angiogenic factors, and among them vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietin-Tie (Ang-Tie) systems are of central importance. The objectives of this study were to determine if VEGF, VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2), and components of the Ang-Tie system are expressed in ovarian follicles at both the protein and mRNA levels and to explore if their expression is related to the stage of the estrous cycle in the ewe. Ovaries from cyclic ewes were collected during the luteal phase (n=5) or before (n=5), during (n=4), and after (n=4) the preovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. After fixation, ovaries were wax-embedded, serially sectioned, and analyzed for both protein and mRNA expression of VEGF, VEGFR-2, angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1), angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2), Tie-1 (mRNA only), and Tie-2. mRNA was studied by in situ hybridization using digoxigenin-11-UTP-labeled ovine riboprobes. A similar pattern of expression was observed for mRNA and protein for all of the factors. Both mRNA and protein expression of VEGF, VEGFR-2, Ang-1, Ang-2, Tie-1 (mRNA only), and Tie-2 in the granulosa and theca cells of follicles >or=2mm in diameter was significantly different among the stages of the estrous cycle, with the highest expression detected at the post-LH surge stage. Theca cells expressed significantly greater levels of the six angiogenic factors compared with granulosa cells at all stages of the estrous cycle. Expression levels in granulosa and theca cells were comparable between small (2.0 to 2.5mm) and medium (2.5 to 4.0mm) follicles, but large follicles (>4.0mm) expressed higher mRNA and protein levels (all P<0.05) for all factors at all stages of the estrous cycle. These data show (i) that VEGF, VEGFR-2, and the Ang-Tie system are present in both granulosa and theca cells of the ovarian follicle, (ii) that thecal cells consistently express greater levels of all of these factors compared with granulosa cells, and (iii) that their levels of expression are related to the stage of the estrous cycle and to follicle size.