Angiogenesis is an important biological response known to be involved in many physiological and pathophysiological situations. Cellular responses involved in the formation of new blood vessels, such as increases in endothelial cell proliferation, cell migration, and the survival of apoptosis-inducing events, have been associated with vascular endothelial growth factor isoform 165 (VEGF(165)). Current research in the areas of bioengineering and biomedical science has focused on developing polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based systems capable of initiating and sustaining angiogenesis in vitro. However, a thorough understanding of how endothelial cells respond at the molecular level to VEGF(165) incorporated into these systems has not yet been established in the literature. The goal of the current study was to compare the upregulation of key intracellular proteins involved in angiogenesis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and human microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC) seeded on PEG hydrogels containing grafted VEGF(165) and adhesion peptides Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser (RGDS). Our data suggest that the covalent incorporation of VEGF(165) into PEG hydrogels encourages the upregulation of signaling proteins responsible for increases in endothelial cell proliferation, cell migration, and the survival after apoptosis-inducing events.
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