Overexpression of angiopoietin-2 impairs myocardial angiogenesis and exacerbates cardiac fibrosis in the diabetic db/db mouse model

Jian Xiong Chen, Heng Zeng, Jeff Reese, Judy L. Aschner, Barbara Meyrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The angio-poietins/Tie-2 system is essential for the maintenance of vascular integrity and angiogenesis. The functional role of angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) in the regulation of angiogenesis is dependent on other growth factors such as VEGF and a given physiopathological conditions. This study investigates the potential role of Ang-2 in myocardial angiogenesis and fibrosis formation in the diabetic db/db mouse. Diabetic db/db mice received intramyocardial administration of either adenovirus Ang-2 (Ad-CMV-Ang-2) or Ad-(3-gal. The levels of Tie-2, VEGF, caspase-3, Wnt7b, fibroblast-specific protein-1 (FSP-1), and adhesion molecules (ICAM-1 and VCAM-1) expression were measured. Apoptosis, capillary density, and cardiac fibrosis were also analyzed in the db/db mouse hearts. Overexpression of Ang-2 suppressed Tie-2 and VEGF expression in db/db mouse hearts together with significant upregulation of Wnt7b expression. Overexpression of Ang-2 also sensitizes ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression in db/db mouse hearts. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that overexpression of Ang-2 resulted in a gradual apoptosis as well as interstitial fibrosis formation, these leading to a significant loss of capillary density. Data from these studies were confirmed in cultured mouse heart microvascular endothelial cells (MHMEC) exposed to excessive Ang-2. Exposure of MHMEC to Ang-2 resulted in increased caspase-3 activity and endothelial apoptosis. Knockdown of Ang-2 attenuated high glucose-induced endothelial cell apoptosis. Further, counterbalance of Ang-2 by overexpression of Ang-1 reversed loss of capillary density and fibrosis formation in db/db mouse hearts. Our data demonstrate that Ang-2 increases endothelial apoptosis, sensitizes myocardial microvascular inflammation, and promotes cardiac fibrosis and thus contributes to loss of capillary density in diabetic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1003-H1012
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Myocardial capillary density
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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