• thyroid hormone;
  • sprouting angiogenesis;
  • pericyte;
  • PDGF ;
  • Akt


Study of physiological angiogenesis and associated signalling mechanisms in adult heart has been limited by the lack of a robust animal model. We investigated thyroid hormone-induced sprouting angiogenesis and the underlying mechanism. Hypothyroidism was induced in C57BL/6J mice by feeding with propylthiouracil (PTU). One year of PTU treatment induced heart failure. Both 12 weeks- (young) and 1 year-PTU (middle age) treatment caused a remarkable capillary rarefaction observed in capillary density. Three-day Triiodothyronine (T3) treatment significantly induced cardiac capillary growth in hypothyroid mice. In cultured left ventricle (LV) tissues from PTU-treated mice, T3 also induced robust sprouting angiogenesis where pericyte-wrapped endothelial cells formed tubes. The in vitro T3 angiogenic response was similar in mice pre-treated with PTU for periods ranging from 1.5 to 12 months. Besides bFGF and VEGF164, PDGF-BB was the most robust angiogenic growth factor, which stimulated notable sprouting angiogenesis in cultured hypothyroid LV tissues with increasing potency, but had little effect on tissues from euthyroid mice. T3 treatment significantly increased PDGF receptor beta (PDGFR-β) protein levels in hypothyroid heart. PDGFR inhibitors blocked the action of T3 both on sprouting angiogenesis in cultured LV tissue and on capillary growth in vivo. In addition, activation of Akt signalling mediated in T3-induced angiogenesis was blocked by PDGFR inhibitor and neutralizing antibody. Our results suggest that hypothyroidism leads to cardiac microvascular impairment and rarefaction with increased sensitivity to angiogenic growth factors. T3-induced cardiac sprouting angiogenesis in adult hypothyroid mice was associated with PDGF-BB, PDGFR-β and downstream activation of Akt.