MRI and fluorescence microscopy of the acute vascular response to VEGF165: vasodilation, hyper-permeability and lymphatic uptake, followed by rapid inactivation of the growth factor



Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the key growth factors regulating tumor angiogenesis and thus it is one of the primary targets for antiangiogenic therapy. The long-term effects of VEGF include induction of proliferation and migration of endothelial cells, tube formation and maintenance of the immature capillaries. The early effects of VEGF include vasodilation and increased permeability. We hypothesize that the early responses to VEGF can serve to develop a quantitative measure of the activity of VEGF, and therefore may be applicable for monitoring the efficacy of systemic suppression of VEGF signaling during antiangiogenic therapy. For that end we tested the ability of MRI and fluorescence microscopy to detect the early response to intradermal VEGF165 in nude mice. VEGF-induced local vasodilation and increased permeability was detected by intravenous administration of macromolecular biotin-BSA-GdDTPA23 30 min after intradermal administration of VEGF. Contrast leak showed saturation kinetics. Delayed contrast administration (90 min after intradermal administration of VEGF) resulted in low contrast leak and demonstrated that the saturation kinetics is not due to contrast equilibration between plasma and the interstitial space, but rather is due to suppression of vascular permeability. Permeability was restored by a second bolus of VEGF, showing that the saturation kinetics is primarily due to inactivation of the growth factor. Confocal microscopy of fluorescent BSA-FITC confirmed the permeability changes monitored by MRI. Moreover, confocal microscopy showed efficient lymphatic uptake of the extravasated contrast material specifically in regions of VEGF induced hyper-permeability. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Abbreviations used:

apparent permeability surface area product


double-distilled water


dimethyl formamide


dimethyl sulfoxide


diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid


blood-plasma volume fraction


phosphate buffer saline


permeability decay rate


vascular endothelial growth factor