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Human VEGF Gene Expression In Skeletal Muscle: Effect Of Acute Normoxic And Hypoxic Exercise

R. S. Richardson, H. Wagner, S. R. D. Mudaliar, R. Henry, E. A. Noyszewski, P. D. Wagner

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Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is involved in extracellular matrix changes and endothelial cell proliferation, both of which are precursors to new capillary growth. Angiogenesis is a vital adaptation to exercise training, and the exercise-induced reduction in intracellular[Formula: see text] has been proposed as a stimulus for this process. Thus we studied muscle cell[Formula: see text] [myoglobin[Formula: see text]([Formula: see text])] during exercise in normoxia and in hypoxia (12% O2) and studied the mRNA levels of VEGF in six untrained subjects after a single bout of exercise by quantitative Northern analysis. Single-leg knee extension provided the acute exercise stimulus: a maximal test followed by 30 min at 50% of the peak work rate achieved in this graded test. Because peak work rate was not affected by hypoxia, the absolute and relative work rates were identical in hypoxia and normoxia. Three pericutaneous needle biopsies were collected from the vastus lateralis muscle, one at rest and then the others at 1 h after exercise in normoxia or hypoxia. At rest (control), VEGF mRNA levels were very low (0.38 ± 0.04 VEGF/18S). After exercise in normoxia or hypoxia, VEGF mRNA levels were much greater (16.9 ± 6.7 or 7.1 ± 1.8 VEGF/18S, respectively). In contrast, there was no measurable basic fibroblast growth factor mRNA response to exercise at this 1-h postexercise time point. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy of myoglobin confirmed a reduction in[Formula: see text] in hypoxia (3.8 ± 0.3 mmHg) compared with normoxia (7.2 ± 0.6 mmHg) but failed to reveal a relationship between [Formula: see text] during exercise and VEGF expression. This VEGF mRNA increase in response to acute exercise supports the concept that VEGF is involved in exercise-induced skeletal muscle angiogenesis but questions the importance of a reduced cellular [Formula: see text]as a stimulus for this response.