Vascular endothelial growth factor-mediated induction of angiogenesis by human rhinoviruses

Stelios Psarras, Eleni Volonaki, Chrysanthi L. Skevaki, Maria Xatzipsalti, Apostolos Bossios, Harris Pratsinis, Stelios Tsigkos, Dimitrios Gourgiotis, Andreas G. Constantopoulos, Andreas Papapetropoulos, Photini Saxoni-Papageorgiou, Nikolaos G. Papadopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Background: Human rhinoviruses, major precipitants of asthma exacerbations, infect the lower airway epithelium inducing inflammation. The possibility that viral infection may mediate angiogenesis, thus contributing to airway remodeling, has not been evaluated. Objective: To investigate whether epithelial infection with rhinovirus mediates angiogenesis in vitro, evaluate possible modulation by an atopic environment, and confirm angiogenic factor induction after in vivo rhinovirus infection. Methods: Bronchial epithelial cells were infected with rhinovirus and levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and angiopoietins were measured. The angiogenic effect of epithelial products was assessed in in vitro models of angiogenesis. PBMCs, obtained from patients with atopic asthma and normal controls, were exposed to rhinovirus; the ability of supernatants from these cultures differentially to affect rhinovirus-mediated epithelial VEGF production was evaluated. VEGF levels were measured in respiratory secretions from patients with asthma, before and during rhinovirus-induced exacerbations. Results: Epithelial infection with rhinovirus specifically stimulated mRNA expression and release of VEGF, but not angiopoietins, in a time-dependent and dose-dependent manner. Supernatants from these cultures were able to induce angiogenesis in vitro, significantly inhibited by a neutralizing anti-VEGF antibody. When bronchial cells were exposed to supernatants of rhinovirus-infected mononuclear cells from normal subjects or atopic patients with asthma, VEGF induction was significantly higher under the influence of the atopic environment. VEGF was elevated during rhinovirus-associated asthma exacerbations. Conclusion: Rhinovirus infection, a frequent event, induces VEGF production in bronchial epithelial cells and human airways, an effect enhanced in an atopic environment. Rhinovirus-associated, VEGF-mediated angiogenesis may contribute to airway remodeling in asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-297
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Airway remodeling
  • Asthma
  • Bronchial epithelial cells
  • Endothelial cells
  • Viral infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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