VEGF synthesis is induced by prostacyclin and TGF-β in distal lung fibroblasts from COPD patients and control subjects: Implications for pulmonary vascular remodelling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background and objective: Involvement of pulmonary vascular remodelling is a characteristic sign in COPD. Vascular mediators such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and prostacyclin may regulate fibroblast activity. The objective was to study the synthesis of VEGF and interactions with prostacyclin and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 in lung fibroblasts from patients with COPD and healthy control subjects. To further explore the autocrine role of synthesized VEGF on fibroblast activity, studies were performed in human lung fibroblasts (HFL-1). Methods: Primary distal lung fibroblast cultures were established from healthy individuals and from COPD patients (GOLD stage IV). Lung fibroblasts were stimulated with the prostacyclin analogue iloprost and the profibrotic stimuli TGF-β1. VEGF synthesis was measured in the cell culture medium. Changes in proliferation rate, migration and synthesis of the extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins proteoglycans were analysed after stimulations with VEGF-A isoform 165 (VEGF165; 1–10 000 pg/mL) in HFL-1. Results: Iloprost and TGF-β1 significantly increased VEGF synthesis in both fibroblasts from COPD patients and control subjects. TGF-β1-induced VEGF synthesis was significantly reduced by the cyclooxygenase inhibitor indomethacin in fibroblasts from COPD patients. VEGF significantly increased proliferation rate and migration capacity in HFL-1. VEGF also significantly increased synthesis of the ECM proteins biglycan and perlecan. The VEGF receptors (VEGFR), VEGFR1, VEGFR2 and VEGFR3, were all expressed in primary lung fibroblasts and HFL-1. Conclusion: VEGF is synthesized in high amounts by distal lung fibroblasts and may have a crucial role in ongoing vascular remodelling processes in the distal lung compartments.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems


  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, extracellular matrix, fibroblasts, prostacyclin, vascular endothelial growth factor
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-75
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch

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