Local induction of lymphangiogenesis with engineered fibrin-binding VEGF-C promotes wound healing by increasing immune cell trafficking and matrix remodeling

Esra Güç, Priscilla S. Briquez, Didier Foretay, Manuel A. Fankhauser, Jeffrey A. Hubbell, Witold W. Kilarski*, Melody A. Swartz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Lymphangiogenesis occurs in inflammation and wound healing, yet its functional roles in these processes are not fully understood. Consequently, clinically relevant strategies for therapeutic lymphangiogenesis remain underdeveloped, particularly using growth factors. To achieve controlled, local capillary lymphangiogenesis with protein engineering and determine its effects on fluid clearance, leukocyte trafficking, and wound healing, we developed a fibrin-binding variant of vascular endothelial growth factor C (FB-VEGF-C) that is slowly released upon demand from infiltrating cells. Using a novel wound healing model, we show that implanted fibrin containing FB-VEGF-C, but not free VEGF-C, could stimulate local lymphangiogenesis in a dose-dependent manner. Importantly, the effects of FB-VEGF-C were restricted to lymphatic capillaries, with no apparent changes to blood vessels and downstream collecting vessels. Leukocyte intravasation and trafficking to lymph nodes were increased in hyperplastic lymphatics, while fluid clearance was maintained at physiological levels. In diabetic wounds, FB-VEGF-C-induced lymphangiogenesis increased extracellular matrix deposition and granulation tissue thickening, indicators of improved wound healing. Together, these results indicate that FB-VEGF-C is a promising strategy for inducing lymphangiogenesis locally, and that such lymphangiogenesis can promote wound healing by enhancing leukocyte trafficking without affecting downstream lymphatic collecting vessels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-175
Number of pages16
JournalBiomaterials
Volume131
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Fibrin
  • Lymphatics
  • Regenerative medicine
  • VEGF-C

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