• calcineurin (CaN);
  • cytokine;
  • endothelial progenitor cell (EPC);
  • signal transduction;
  • vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)


We have investigated whether VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) regulates the proliferative capacity and eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase)/NO (nitric oxide) pathway of EPCs (endothelial progenitor cells) by activating CaN (calcineurin)/NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T-cells) signalling. EPCs were obtained from cultured mononuclear cells isolated from the peripheral blood of healthy adults. Treatment with VEGF (50 ng/ml) potently promoted CaN enzymatic activity, activation of NFAT2, cell proliferation, eNOS protein expression and NO production. Pretreatment with cyclosporin A (10 μg/ml), a pharmacological inhibitor of CaN or 11R-VIVIT, a special inhibitor of NFAT, completely abrogated the aforementioned effects of VEGF treatment and increased apoptosis. The results indicate that VEGF treatment promotes the proliferative capacity of human EPCs by activating CaN/NFAT signalling leading to increased eNOS protein expression and NO production.