In vivo delivery of VEGF RNA and protein to increase osteogenesis and intraosseous angiogenesis

Robin Mark Howard Rumney, Gianluca Tozzi, Alex Kao, Stuart Lanham, Janos Kanczler, Lalitha Thiagarajan, James Dixon, Richard Oreffo

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Deficient bone vasculature is a key component in pathological conditions ranging from developmental skeletal abnormalities to impaired bone repair. Vascularisation is dependent upon vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which drives both angiogenesis and osteogenesis. The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of blood vessel and bone formation following transfection with VEGF RNA or delivery of recombinant human VEGF165 protein (rhVEGF165) across in vitro and in vivo model systems. To quantify blood vessels within bone, an innovative approach was developed using high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (XCT) to generate quantifiable three-dimensional reconstructions. Application of rhVEGF165 enhanced osteogenesis, as evidenced by increased human osteoblast-like MG-63 cell proliferation in vitro and calvarial bone thickness following in vivo administration. In contrast, transfection with VEGF RNA triggered angiogenic effects by promoting VEGF protein secretion from MG-63VEGF165 cells in vitro, which resulted in significantly increased angiogenesis in the chorioallantoic (CAM) assay in ovo. Furthermore, direct transfection of bone with VEGF RNA in vivo increased intraosseous vascular branching. This study demonstrates the importance of continuous supply as opposed to a single high dose of VEGF on angiogenesis and osteogenesis and, illustrates the potential of XCT in delineating in 3D, blood vessel connectivity in bone.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17745
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2019


  • RCUK
  • MRC
  • MR/K026682/1


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