Age-dependent defect in vascular endothelial growth factor expression is associated with reduced hypoxia-inducible factor 1 activity

Alain Rivard, Laurence Berthou-Soulie, Nicole Principe, Marianne Kearney, Cynthia Curry, Didier Branellec, Gregg L. Semenza, Jeffrey M. Isner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

233 Scopus citations


Previous studies have indicated that advanced age is associated with impaired angiogenesis in part because of reduced levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression. To investigate potential mechanisms responsible for this age-dependent defect in VEGF expression, aortic smooth muscle cells isolated from young rabbits (ages 6-8 months) or old rabbits (ages 4-5 years) were exposed to normoxic (21% oxygen) or hypoxic (0.1% oxygen) conditions. Hypoxia-induced VEGF expression was significantly lower in old versus young cells. VEGF mRNA stability in hypoxic conditions was similar in both young and old cells. However, transient transfection with a luciferase reporter gene that was transcriptionally regulated by the VEGF promoter revealed a significant defect in VEGF up-regulation following hypoxia in old versus young cells (a 43 versus 117% increase in luciferase activity, p < 0.05); this difference was not seen when a deletion construct lacking the hypoxia-inducible 1 (HIF-1) binding site was used. Moreover, although HIF-1α-mRNA expression was shown to be similar in young and old smooth muscle cells, HIF-1α protein and DNA binding activity were significantly reduced in old versus young smooth muscle cells that were exposed to hypoxia. We propose that age-dependent reduction in hypoxia-induced VEGF expression results from reduced HIF-1 activity and may explain the previously described age-dependent impairment of angiogenesis in response to ischemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29643-29647
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 22 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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