Mice lacking the vascular endothelial growth factor-B gene (Vegfb) have smaller hearts, dysfunctional coronary vasculature, and impaired recovery from cardiac ischemia.
Vascular endothelial growth factor-B (VEGF-B) is closely related to VEGF-A, an effector of blood vessel growth during development and disease and a strong candidate for angiogenic therapies. To further study the in vivo function of VEGF-B, we have generated Vegfb knockout mice (Vegfb(-/-)). Unlike Vegfa knockout mice, which die during embryogenesis, Vegfb(-/-) mice are healthy and fertile. Despite appearing overtly normal, Vegfb(-/-) hearts are reduced in size and display vascular dysfunction after coronary occlusion and impaired recovery from experimentally induced myocardial ischemia. These findings reveal a role for VEGF-B in the development or function of coronary vasculature and suggest potential clinical use in therapeutic angiogenesis.