Morbidity and mortality of peripheral arterial occlusive disease significantly increases with age, often exhibiting more severe disease pathology and decreased treatment effectiveness. Therapeutic angiogenesis with angiogenic growth factors may represent a valuable treatment option for the severely ill, older adult patient population. Aging is considered an independent cardiovascular risk factor, but pathomechanistically it is not well understood. Diminished endothelial nitric oxide (EDNO) production has been considered as a major contributor to the aging process. To investigate the effect of age on postischemic revascularization independent of changes in EDNO, we used endothelial nitric oxide synthase–deficient (ecNOS-KO) mice. We found an age-dependent acceleration in ischemic injury following unilateral femoral artery ligation in these animals compared to C57BL/J6 mice. Postischemic revascularization, quantified by measuring von Willebrand factor expression, was significantly impaired, suggesting that factors other than progressive EDNO deterioration are also involved in the age-dependent severe disease phenotype. Ischemia led to an increase in the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2, KDR, in younger ecNOS-KO; however, this increase in KDR expression was absent in the older animals. Lack of increased KDR expression may provide a mechanistic explanation for the severe ischemic injury and perhaps can be used as a clinical marker to identify severe, vascular endothelial growth factor refractory patient population.
‡Gene Therapy Research Departments, Berlex Biosciences, Richmond, CA
Reprints: Katalin Kauser, MD, PhD, DSc, Director, Cardiovascular Diseases, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, 175 Briar Ridge Road, Ridgefield, CT 06877 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Received for publication October 31, 2005; accepted March 18, 2006