J Invest Dermatol 118: 800-805, 2002

Targeted Overexpression of the Angiogenesis Inhibitor Thrombospondin-1 in the Epidermis of Transgenic Mice Prevents Ultraviolet-B-Induced Angiogenesis and Cutaneous Photo-Damage

Kiichiro Yano, Hajimu Oura, and Michael Detmar
  1. Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts, U.S.A.


Chronic ultraviolet-B irradiation of the skin results in epidermal hyperplasia, degradation of extracellular matrix molecules, and formation of wrinkles. To characterize the biologic role of the vascular system in the mediation of ultraviolet-B-induced skin damage, we performed quantitative analyses of cutaneous blood vessels of mice after 10 wk of ultraviolet-B irradiation. Skin vascularization was greatly increased after chronic ultraviolet-B exposure with a significant increase of both the number and the size of dermal blood vessels, associated with upregulation of vascular endothelial growth factor expression in the hyperplastic epidermis. To directly study whether inhibition of angiogenesis may diminish ultraviolet-B-induced cutaneous damage, wild-type and transgenic mice with skin-specific overexpression of the endogenous angiogenesis inhibitor thrombospondin-1 were subjected to the same ultraviolet-B irradiation regimen. Ultraviolet-B-irradiated thrombospondin-1 transgenic mice showed a significantly reduced skin vascularization, decreased endothelial cell proliferation, and increased endothelial cell apoptosis rates, compared with wild-type mice. Moreover, dermal photo-damage and wrinkle formation were greatly reduced in thrombospondin-1 transgenic mice. These results reveal an important role of the cutaneous vascular system in mediating ultraviolet-B-induced skin damage and suggest inhibition of angiogenesis as a potential new approach for the prevention of chronic cutaneous photo-damage.

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