Important protein may have a key role in future therapies for blood vessel leakage

Published: 2012-06-08

The role of blood vessels is to transport oxygen and nutrients to tissues in all parts of the body. This requires that fluids and molecules can pass through the blood vessel wall in a controlled way. When the control is disrupted the vessels will leak and edema will occur in the surrounding tissues. In a new study led by Lena Claesson-Welsh the researchers could show how blood vessel leakage arises. The results can be used to develop therapies for edema in severe diseases such as cancer.

The permeability of blood vessels to fluids and molecules is of critical importance both in healthy tissues and in pathological conditions. In addition, during inflammation or infection different cell types must be able to pass through the vessel wall to the surrounding tissue.

Some diseases are associated with vessel leakage and accompanying edema, which can lead to severe loss of function. Persistent edema can also interfere with treatment of for instance cancer, by preventing drugs from reaching the tumor. It is therefore both interesting and important to understand the mechanisms that control blood vessel leakage.

The growth factor VEGF is known for its capacity to induce leakage. In the present study the researchers show how leakage arises through a reaction where VEGF and various other proteins in the blood vessel cell interact, with the result that the cell looses contact with its neighbouring cells. This creates an opening in the vessel wall, which soon closes again.

– An important protein, TSAd, has a key role in this process. TSAd coordinates the reaction in the blood vessel cell’s contact with the surrounding. We therefore believe that TSAd might be used as a target for future treatments, to prevent vessel leakage and edema, says Lena Claesson-Welsh.

The study is a collaboration with scientists in Norway and the USA. The finding have been published in Journal of Experimental Medicine.
More information:
Paper in Journal of Experimental Medicine
Lena Claesson-Welsh’s research