Role of hypoxia and extracellular matrix-integrin binding in the modulation of angiogenic growth factors secretion by retinal pigmented epithelial cells

Shaker A. Mousa, William Lorelli, Peter A. Campochiaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) is a monolayer of polarized cells located between retinal photoreceptors and blood vessels of the choroid. The basal surface of RPE cells rests on Bruch's membrane, a complex extracellular matrix structure which becomes abnormal in several disease processes, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Ruptures or abnormalities in Bruch's membrane are frequently accompanied by choroidal neovascularization. Disturbed interaction of RPE cells with their extracellular matrix (ECM) could play a role in this process. The present study was undertaken to examine the complex interactions between hypoxia, integrin, and ECM in the regulation of RPE functions. Antibody blocking experiments demonstrated that RPE cell adhesion to vitronectin is mediated primarily through αvβ5 and adhesion to fibronectin occurs through α5β1. RPE adhesion to immobilized laminin demonstrated highest level of non-RGD- mediated adhesion as compared to that with collagen IV or the RGD matrices such as vitronectin (αvβ5) , fibronectin (α5β1), or thrombospondin (α5β1 + αvβ5). Addition of soluble vitronectin, or fibrinogen to RPE cell cultures resulted in a small to moderate increase in VEGF and FGF2 in the media, while each of these growth factors was dramatically increased after addition of thrombospondin 1 (TSP1). In contrast, soluble fibronectin resulted in differential upregulation of VEGF but not FGF2. Similarly, immobilized TSP1 resulted in differential greater upregulation in VEGF but not FGF2 release from RPE as compared to other ECMs under either normoxic or hypoxic conditions. Additionally, Hypoxia resulted in a time-dependent increase in VEGF, but not FGF2 release in the media. RPE cells grown on TSP1- coated plates showed increased VEGF and FGF2 in their media compared to cells grown on plates coated with type IV collagen, laminin, vitronectin, or fibronectin. The TSP1-induced increase in secretion of growth factors was partially blocked by anti-α5β1, anti-αvβ3, and anti-αvβ5 antibodies indicating that it may be mediated in part by TSP1 binding to those integrins. These data suggest that alterations in oxygen levels (hypoxia/ischemia) and ECM of RPE cells, a prominent feature of AMD, can cause increased secretion of angiogenic growth factors that might contribute to the development of choroidal neovascularization. These data also suggest the potential modulatory role of VEGF release from RPE by ECM and αvβ5 and α5β1 integrins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of cellular biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 1999


  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Choroidal neovascularization
  • FGF2
  • Hypoxia
  • Integrins
  • Matrix proteins
  • Retinal pigmented epithelial cells
  • Thrombospondin
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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