Loss of vascular endothelial growth factor a activity in murine epidermal keratinocytes delays wound healing and inhibits tumor formation

Heidemarie Rossiter, Caterina Barresi, Johannes Pammer, Michael Rendl, Jody Haigh, Erwin F Wagner, Erwin Tschachler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


The angiogenic cytokine vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A plays a central role in both wound healing and tumor growth. In the skin, epidermal keratinocytes are a major source of this growth factor. To study the contribution of keratinocyte-derived VEGF-A to these angiogenesis-dependent processes, we generated mice in which this cytokine was inactivated specifically in keratin 5-expressing tissues. The mutant mice were macroscopically normal, and the skin capillary system was well established, demonstrating that keratinocyte-derived VEGF-A is not essential for angiogenesis in the skin during embryonic development. However, healing of full-thickness wounds in adult animals was appreciably delayed compared with controls, with retarded crust shedding and the appearance of a blood vessel-free zone underneath the newly formed epidermis. When 9,12-dimethyl 1,2-benzanthracene was applied as both tumor initiator and promoter, a total of 143 papillomas developed in 20 of 23 (87%) of control mice. In contrast, only three papillomas arose in 2 of 17 (12%) of the mutant mice, whereas the rest merely displayed epidermal thickening and parakeratosis. Mutant mice also developed only 2 squamous cell carcinomas, whereas 11 carcinomas were found in seven of the control animals. These data demonstrate that whereas keratinocyte-derived VEGF-A is dispensable for skin vascularization under physiological conditions, it plays an important albeit nonessential role during epidermal wound healing and is crucial for the development of 9,12-dimethyl 1,2-benzanthracene-induced epithelial skin tumors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3508-3516
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

Cite this