Effect of covalent antithrombin-heparin complex on developmental mechanisms in the lung
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We have developed a potent antithrombin (AT)-heparin conjugate (ATH) that is retained in the lung to prevent pulmonary thrombosis associated with respiratory distress in premature newborns. During continuing maturation, pulmonary angiogenesis in premature infants would be a crucial process in lung development. A naturally occurring latent form of antithrombin (L-AT) has antiangiogenic effects on lung vascularization. However, impact of latent ATH (L-ATH) on developing lung vascularization is unknown. Thus, effects of L-AT and L-ATH on fetal murine lung development were compared. Lung buds from embryonic day 11.5 (E11.5) Tie2-LacZ mouse embryos were incubated in DMEM plus FBS supplemented with PBS, AT, L-AT, heparin, ATH, or L-ATH. Vasculature of cultured explants was quantified by X-galactosidase staining. RNA was analyzed with murine gene probes for angiopoietin (Ang)-1, Ang-2, fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). FGF2-supplemented medium was used to test contribution to effects of L-AT and L-ATH on angiogenesis. Epithelial branching morphogenesis was inhibited by L-AT (P = 0.003) and heparin (P < 0.001). L-AT and heparin decreased relative vascular area compared with PBS, ATH, and L-ATH. Expressions of all genes studied were downregulated by L-AT. However, L-AT and L-ATH inhibited branching morphogenesis and vasculature with added FGF2. These findings indicate that covalent linkage of AT to heparin negates disruptive effects of these moieties on lung morphology, vascularization, and growth factor gene expression. ATH may have enhanced safety as an anticoagulant during vascular development.
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