Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) is a potent angiogenic growth factor. Here, gene expression profiling of FGF2-stimulated microvascular endothelial cells revealed, together with a prominent pro-angiogenic profile, a pro-inflammatory signature characterized by the upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokine/chemokines and their receptors, endothelial cell adhesion molecules, and members of the eicosanoid pathway. Real time quantitative PCR demonstrated early induction of most of the FGF2-induced, inflammation-related genes. Accordingly, chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) and murine Matrigel plug angiogenesis assays evidenced a significant monocyte/macrophage infiltrate in the areas of FGF2-driven neovascularization. Similar results were obtained when the conditioned medium of FGF2-stimulated endothelial cells was delivered onto the CAM, suggesting that FGF2-upregulated chemoattractants mediate the inflammatory response. Importantly, FGF2-triggered new blood vessel formation was significantly reduced in phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-gamma null mice exhibiting defective leukocyte migration or in clodronate liposome-treated, macrophage-depleted mice. Furthermore, the viral pan-chemokine antagonist M3 inhibited the angiogenic and inflammatory responses induced by the conditioned medium of FGF2-stimulated endothelial cells and impaired FGF2-driven neovascularization in the CAM assay. These findings point to inflammatory chemokines as early mediators of FGF2-driven angiogenesis and indicate a nonredundant role for inflammatory cells in the neovascularization process elicited by the growth factor
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