Expression Patterns of HIF-1alpha Under Hypoxia in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells of Venous Malformations
Ann Plast Surg
PURPOSE: The molecular pathophysiology of venous malformations (VMs), which are a type of vascular malformation, is poorly understood. Until now, it is known that VM lesions are related to the process of angiogenesis. Because angiogenesis is induced under hypoxic conditions, hypoxia is thought to be important in VM lesion formation. Therefore, we examined the implications of hypoxia on the biological behavior of VM vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). In doing so, we investigated the expression patterns of hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha), which plays a key role in hypoxia-induced angiogenesis, to provide a further understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in VM. METHODS: Vascular smooth muscle cells from 5 normal veins and 5 VM lesions were cultured under moderate hypoxic conditions (3% O2, 5% CO2). The effects of hypoxia on HIF-1alpha expression were measured by immunocytochemical staining, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, and real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: Overall, the expression of HIF-1alpha in cells was high after exposure to hypoxia for 6 or 12 hours, but decreased after 24 hours of hypoxia. HIF-1alpha expression in VM VSMCs was 2 times higher than that in normal VSMCs. Immunocytochemically, HIF-1alpha was mainly located in the nucleus and the intensity in VM VSMCs was stronger after 6 and 12 hours of hypoxia when compared to the expression pattern of HIF-1alpha in VSMCs from normal tissue. This suggested that VM tissue is more susceptible to the effects of hypoxia than normal tissue. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that the high expression of HIF-1alpha in VM VSMCs under hypoxic conditions could be an important factor for stimulating downstream angiogenesis in VM. Furthermore, the results of this investigation could provide the basis for future studies of VM pathophysiology, and ultimately lead to the development of new therapeutic approaches.