VEGF synthesis and VEGF receptor 2 expression in patients with bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome after lung transplantation

Anna-Karin Larsson-Callerfelt, Catharina Müller, Annika Andersson-Sjöland, Lena Thiman, Hillevi Larsson, Oskar Hallgren, Leif Bjermer, Leif Eriksson, Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Chronic lung allograft dysfunction including Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) is common after lung transplantation. Histologically, BOS is recognized as fibrotic lesions with accumulated extracellular matrix (ECM) in small airways. Lung fibroblasts are major producers of ECM and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). In this study we hypothesize that VEGF is involved in BOS development after lung transplantation.

METHODS: We investigated the effect of profibrotic transforming growth factor (TGF-β) on VEGF synthesis in lung fibroblasts isolated from distal lung tissue biopsies taken from patients at 3, 6 and 12 months after lung transplantation (n = 14). Co-expression of VEGF receptor (VEGFR) 2 and collagen marker prolyl4-hydroxylase (p4OH) were analyzed in lung tissue from patients with BOS (n = 11).

RESULTS: VEGF synthesis from distal derived lung fibroblasts were significantly lower 3 months after lung transplantation (168.6 ± 133.7; n = 7) compared to non-transplanted subjects (451.8 ± 185.9; n = 9; p = 0.0033) and increased over time at 6 months (584.1 ± 264.9; n = 9; p = 0.0033) and 12 months (451.1 ± 207.5; n = 8; p = 0.0065) post transplantation. TGF-β significantly induced VEGF synthesis at all time points. At 12 months post transplantation there was significantly less VEGF synthesis after TGF-β stimulation in fibroblasts obtained from BOS patients (1170 ± 450.2; n = 4) compared to patients without any chronic rejection process (1980 ± 417.9; n = 4; p < 0.039). The numbers of cells expressing VEGFR2/p4OH were increased in patients with BOS (33.2 ± 10.9; n = 11) compared to control subjects (10.1 ± 9.9; n = 11; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results support that changes in VEGF/VEGFR2 axis could be involved in BOS development and marker of poor outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105944
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May

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Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Respiratory Medicine and Allergy


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