Background: Angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis are critical for several allergic, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders. Mast cells infiltrate the sites of inflammation and tumors. Objective: We sought to characterize the expression and functions of vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) and their receptors (VEGFRs) in human mast cells. Methods: VEGF expression was evaluated by means of RT-PCR and Western blotting in primary human lung mast cells and in the mast cell lines LAD-2 and HMC-1. Angiogenic activity of mast cell supernatants was determined by using the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane assay. VEGFR expression was assessed by means of RT-PCR and flow cytometry. Modified Boyden chambers were used for chemotaxis assay. Results: Human mast cells express VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D at both the mRNA and protein level. Prostaglandin E2(PGE2) enhanced the expression of VEGFA, VEGFB, and VEGFC, whereas an adenosine analog (5′-[N-ethylcarboxamido] adenosine [NECA]) increased VEGFA, VEGFC, and VEGFD expression. In addition, PGE2and NECA enhanced VEGF-A release, and supernatants of PGE2- and NECA-activated human lung mast cells induced angiogenic responses in the chorioallantoic membrane assay that were inhibited by an anti-VEGF-A antibody. Mast cells expressed mRNA for VEGFR1 and VEGFR2. These receptors were present on the mast cell surface. VEGF-A165, VEGF-B167, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, and placental growth factor 1 induced mast cell chemotaxis. These chemotactic effects were mediated by the activation of both VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2. Conclusion: Our data indicate that human mast cells are both a source and a target of angiogenic and lymphangiogenic factors and therefore might play a role in inflammatory and neoplastic angiogenesis through the expression of several forms of VEGFs and their receptors. © 2009 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
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