Alginate sulfates mitigate binding kinetics of proangiogenic growth factors with receptors toward revascularization

John Schmidt, Min Kyung Lee, Eunkyung Ko, Jae Hyun Jeong, Luisa A. Dipietro, Hyunjoon Kong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ever since proangiogenic growth factors have been used as a vascular medicine to treat tissue ischemia, efforts have been increasingly made to develop a method to enhance efficacy of growth factors in recreating microvascular networks, especially at low dose. To this end, we hypothesized that polysaccharides substituted with sulfate groups would amplify growth factor receptor activation and stimulate phenotypic activities of endothelial cells involved in neovascularization. We examined this hypothesis by modifying alginate with a controlled number of sulfates and using it to derive a complex with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), as confirmed with fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay. Compared with the bare VEGF and with a mixture of VEGF and unmodified alginates, the VEGF complexed with alginate sulfates significantly reduced the dissociation rate with the VEGFR-2, elevated VEGFR-2 phosphorylation level, and increased the number of endothelial sprouts in vitro. Furthermore, the VEGF-alginate sulfate complex improved recovery of perfusion in an ischemic hindlimb of a mouse due to the increase of the capillary density. Overall, this study not only demonstrates an important cofactor of VEGF but also uncovers an underlying mechanism by which the cofactor mitigates the VEGF-induced signaling involved in the binding kinetics and activation of VEGFR. We therefore believe that the results of this study will be highly useful in improving the therapeutic efficacy of various growth factors and expediting their uses in clinical treatments of wounds and tissue defects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2148-2154
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular pharmaceutics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 5 2016


  • alginate
  • angiogenesis
  • binding kinetics
  • fluorescence resonance energy transfer
  • vascular endothelial growth factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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