Interactions of VEGF isoforms with VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2, and neuropilin in vivo: A computational model of human skeletal muscle

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66 Scopus citations


The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family of cytokines is involved in the maintenance of existing adult blood vessels as well as in angiogenesis, the sprouting of new vessels. To study the proangiogenic activation of VEGF receptors (VEGFRs) by VEGF family members in skeletal muscle, we develop a computational model of VEGF isoforms (VEGF121, VEGF165), their cell surface receptors, and the extracellular matrix in in vivo tissue. We build upon our validated model of the biochemical interactions between VEGF isoforms and receptor tyrosine kinases (VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2) and nonsignaling neuropilin-1 coreceptors in vitro. The model is general and could be applied to any tissue; here we apply the model to simulate the transport of VEGF isoforms in human vastus lateralis muscle, which is extensively studied in physiological experiments. The simulations predict the distribution of VEGF isoforms in resting (nonexercising) muscle and the activation of VEGFR signaling. Little of the VEGF protein in muscle is present as free, unbound extracellular cytokine; the majority is bound to the cell surface receptors or to the extracellular matrix. However, interstitial sequestration of VEGF165 does not affect steady-state receptor binding. In the absence of neuropilin, VEGF121 and VEGF165 behave similarly, but neuropilin enhances the binding of VEGF165 to VEGFR-2. This model is the first to study VEGF tissue distribution and receptor activation in human muscle, and it provides a platform for the design and evaluation of therapeutic approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H459-H474
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Angiogenesis
  • Cytokine
  • Growth factor
  • Mathematical model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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