Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have discovered a new mechanism that triggers the growth of blood vessels - after the circulation of oxygen and nutrients to body parts is turned off in mice.
The team of researchers led by Bruce Spiegelman found that PGC-1alpha, a key metabolic regulatory molecule stimulated the formation of new blood vessels once it senses perilous low levels of oxygen, a process also known as angiogenesis
A similar response was seen when a group of proteins known as Hypoxia Inducible Factors (HIF) that detected hypoxia or lack of oxygen activated the production of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) and simultaneously triggered angiogenesis.
"We were surprised to find this novel mechanism," Nature quoted Spiegelman, as saying.
Angiogenesis takes place when an artery blockage or an injury leaves normal tissues starved for blood. It created a network of small vessels to
support the area and defend against more injuries.
"That means there is now a second pathway that you need to know about if you are trying to activate or inhibit angiogenesis," said lead author Dr. Zoltan Arany.
"The discovery of a second, alternate pathway, involving PGC-1 alpha and ERR-alpha, leading to angiogenesis may offer new opportunities for therapy "in any situation where angiogenesis is a factor," he added.
The study appears in journal Nature.