Ghrelin promotes functional angiogenesis in a mouse model of critical limb ischemia through activation of proangiogenic MicroRNAs

Rajesh Katare (Lead / Corresponding author), Shruti Rawal, Pujika Emani Munasinghe, Hirotsugu Tsuchimochi, Tadakatsu Inagaki, Yutaka Fujii, Parul Dixit, Keiji Umetani, Mikiayasu Shirai, Daryl O. Schwenke

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Current therapeutic strategies for the treatment of critical limb ischemia (CLI) have only limited success. Recent in vitro evidence in the literature, using cell lines, proposes that the peptide hormone ghrelin may have angiogenic properties. In this study, we aim to investigate if ghrelin could promote postischemic angiogenesis in a mouse model of CLI and, further, identify the mechanistic pathway(s) that underpin ghrelin's proangiogenic properties. CLI was induced in male CD1 mice by femoral artery ligation. Animals were then randomized to receive either vehicle or acylated ghrelin (150 μg/kg sc) for 14 consecutive days. Subsequently, synchrotron radiation microangiography was used to assess hindlimb perfusion. Subsequent tissue samples were collected for molecular and histological analysis. Ghrelin treatment markedly improved limb perfusion by promoting the generation of new capillaries and arterioles (internal diameter less than 50 μm) within the ischemic hindlimb that were both structurally and functionally normal; evident by robust endothelium-dependent vasodilatory responses to acetylcholine. Molecular analysis revealed that ghrelin's angiogenic properties were linked to activation of prosurvival Akt/vascular endothelial growth factor/Bcl-2 signaling cascade, thus reducing the apoptotic cell death and subsequent fibrosis. Further, ghrelin treatment activated proangiogenic (miR-126 and miR-132) and antifibrotic (miR-30a) microRNAs (miRs) while inhibiting antiangiogenic (miR-92a and miR-206) miRs. Importantly, in vitro knockdown of key proangiogenic miRs (miR-126 and miR-132) inhibited the angiogenic potential of ghrelin. These results therefore suggest that clinical use of ghrelin for the early treatment of CLI may be a promising and potent inducer of reparative vascularization through modulation of key molecular factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-445
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


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