Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 25 Jan '17Published in: Oncotarget
We have recently shown that targeting Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) specifically in scar-infiltrating myeloid cells prevented remodeling of the sinusoidal vasculature and abrogated the resolution of murine liver fibrosis, thereby unmasking an unanticipated link between angiogenesis and resolution of fibrosis. In a gain of function approach, we wanted to test the impact of VEGF overexpression in myeloid cells on fibrolysis. We observe that genetic inactivation of the von Hippel Lindau protein (VHL), a negative regulator of Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF) in myeloid cells, leads to increased VEGF expression and most importantly, accelerated matrix degradation and reduced myofibroblast numbers after CCl4 challenge. This is associated with enhanced expression of MMP-2 and -14 as well as lower expression of TIMP-2 in liver endothelial cells. In addition, we report increased expression of MMP-13 in scar-associated macrophages as well as improved liver regeneration upon ablation of VHL in myeloid cells. Finally, therapeutic infusion of macrophages nulli-zygous for VHL or treated with the pharmacologic hydroxylase inhibitor and HIF-inducer Dimethyloxalylglycine (DMOG) accelerates resolution of fibrosis. Hence, boosting the HIF-VEGF signaling axis in macrophages represents a promising therapeutic avenue for the treatment of liver fibrosis.