Endostatin/Collagen XVIII Is Increased in Cerebrospinal Fluid after Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
Angiogenesis following traumatic brain injury (TBI) may be of importance not only for post-traumatic reparative processes but also for the development of secondary injuries. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a major regulator of endothelial cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and vascular permeability, though its possible involvement in secondary injuries after TBI is largely unknown. This study was undertaken to analyze the expression of VEGF and the VEGF receptors in experimental brain contusion in rat. Twenty-three adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to a focal cerebral contusion injury by use of a weight-drop model. Four additional rats underwent craniotomy only. The animals were sacrificed 6 h, or 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 16 days post-injury. Expression of VEGF and the VEGF receptors VEGFR1 (Flt-1) and VEGFR2 (Flk-1) were studied by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. VEGF messenger (m)RNA and protein expression were detected in astrocytes, neutrophils, and macrophages in or adjacent to the injury from 1 day after injury, with a peak expression after 4-6 days. Flt-1 and Flk-1 mRNA and protein were detected in vessels adjacent to the lesion from 1 day after injury throughout day 6 after injury. It was also noted that Flt-1/Flk-1 and VEGF-positive vessels often were negative for SMI-71, a marker for vessels in areas with blood-brain barrier (BBB). In conclusion, we have demonstrated that TBI leads to an upregulation of VEGF, Flt-1, and Flk-1 mRNA and protein in and around the lesion. The data provide a foundation for future pharmacological intervention studies focusing on posttraumatic angiogenesis and possible injury repair effects of the VEGF system in TBI.