VEGF-induced retinal angiogenic signalling is critically dependent on Ca2+ signalling via Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II

Elayappan Banumathi, Anna O'Connor, Sangiliyandi Gurunathan, David A. Simpson, J. Graham McGeown, Timothy M. Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose. The authors conducted an in vitro investigation of the role of Ca2+-dependent signaling in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced angiogenesis in the retina.

Methods. Bovine retinal endothelial cells (BRECs) were stimulated with VEGF in the presence or absence of 1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid-acetoxymethyl ester (BAPTA-AM; intracellular Ca2+ chelator), U73122 (phospholipase C (PLC) inhibitor), xestospongin C (Xe-C), and 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (2APB) (inhibitors of inositol-1,4,5 triphosphate (IP3) signaling). Intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) was estimated using fura-2 Ca2+ microfluorometry, Akt phosphorylation quantified by Western blot analysis, and angiogenic responses assessed using cell migration, proliferation, tubulogenesis, and sprout formation assays. The effects of the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) inhibitor KN93 were also evaluated on VEGF-induced Akt signaling and angiogenic activity.

Results. Stimulation of BRECs with 25 ng/mL VEGF induced a biphasic increase in [Ca2+]i, with an initial transient peak followed by a sustained plateau phase. VEGF-induced [Ca2+]i increases were almost completely abolished by pretreating the cells with BAPTA-AM, U73122, Xe-C, or 2APB. These agents also inhibited VEGF-induced phosphorylation of Akt, cell migration, proliferation, tubulogenesis, and sprouting angiogenesis. KN93 was similarly effective at blocking the VEGF-induced activation of Akt and angiogenic responses.

Conclusions. VEGF increases [Ca2+]i in BRECs through activation of the PLC-IP3 signal transduction pathway. VEGF-induced phosphorylation of the proangiogenic protein Akt is critically dependent on this increase in [Ca2+]i and the subsequent activation of CaMKII. Pharmacologic inhibition of Ca2+-mediated signaling in retinal endothelial cells blocks VEGF-induced angiogenic responses. These results suggest that the PLC/IP3/Ca2+/CaMKII signaling pathway may be a rational target for the treatment of angiogenesis-related disorders of the eye.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3103-3111
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Sensory Systems


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