VEGF is critical for stem cell-mediated cardioprotection and a crucial paracrine factor for defining the age threshold in adult and neonatal stem cell function

Troy A. Markel, Yue Wang, Jeremy L. Herrmann, Paul R. Crisostomo, Meijing Wang, Nathan M. Novotny, Christine M. Herring, Jiangning Tan, Tim Lahm, Daniel R. Meldrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

115 Scopus citations


Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may be a novel treatment modality for organ ischemia, possibly through the release of beneficial paracrine factors. However, an age threshold likely exists as to when MSCs gain their beneficial protective properties. We hypothesized that 1) VEGF would be a crucial stem cell paracrine mediator in providing postischemic myocardial protection and 2) small-interfering (si)RNA ablation of VEGF in adult MSCs (aMSCs) would equalize the differences observed between aMSC- and neonatal stem cell (nMSC)-mediated cardioprotection. Female adult Sprague-Dawley rat hearts were subjected to ischemia-reperfusion injury via Langendorff-isolated heart preparation (15 min equilibration, 25 min ischemia, and 60 min reperfusion). MSCs were harvested from adult and 2.5-wk-old neonatal mice and cultured under normal conditions. VEGF was knocked down in both cell lines by VEGF siRNA. Immediately before ischemia, one million aMSCs or nMSCs with or without VEGF knockdown were infused into the coronary circulation. The cardiac functional parameters were recorded. VEGF in cell supernatants was measured via ELISA. aMSCs produced significantly more VEGF than nMSCs and were noted to increase postischemic myocardial recovery compared with nMSCs. The knockdown of VEGF significantly decreased VEGF production in both cell lines, and the pretreatment of these cells impaired stem cell-mediated myocardial function. The knockdown of VEGF in adult stem cells equalized the myocardial functional differences observed between adult and neonatal stem cells. Therefore, VEGF is a critical paracrine mediator in facilitating postischemic myocardial recovery and likely plays a role in mediating the observed age threshold during stem cell therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2308-H2314
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008



  • Ischemia-reperfusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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