Computational kinetic model of VEGF trapping by soluble VEGF receptor-1: Effects of transendothelial and lymphatic macromolecular transport

Florence T.H. Wu, Marianne O. Stefanini, Feilim Mac Gabhann, Christopher D. Kontos, Brian H. Annex, Aleksander S. Popel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signal transduction through the cell surface receptors VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 regulates angiogenesis - the growth of new capillaries from preexistent microvasculature. Soluble VEGF receptor-1 (sVEGFR1), a nonsignaling truncated variant of VEGFR1, has been postulated to inhibit angiogenic signaling via direct sequestration of VEGF ligands or dominant-negative heterodimerization with surface VEGFRs. The relative contributions of these two mechanisms to sVEGFR1's purported antiangiogenic effects in vivo are currently unknown. We previously developed a computational model for predicting the compartmental distributions of VEGF and sVEGFR1 throughout the healthy human body by simulating the molecular interaction networks of the VEGF ligand-receptor system as well as intercompartmental macromolecular biotransport processes. In this study, we decipher the dynamic processes that led to our prior prediction that sVEGFR1, through its ligand trapping mechanism alone, does not demonstrate significant steady-state antiangiogenic effects. We show that sVEGFR1-facilitated tissue-to-blood shuttling of VEGF accounts for a counterintuitive and drastic elevation in plasma free VEGF concentrations after both intramuscular and intravascular sVEGFR1 infusion. While increasing intramuscular VEGF production reduces free sVEGFR1 levels through increased VEGF-sVEGFR1 complex formation, we demonstrate a competing and opposite effect in which increased VEGF occupancy of neuropilin-1 (NRP1) and the corresponding reduction in NRP1 availability for internalization of sVEGFR1 unexpectedly increases free sVEGFR1 levels. In conclusion, dynamic intercompartmental transport processes give rise to our surprising prediction that VEGF trapping alone does not account for sVEGFR1's antiangiogenic potential. sVEGFR1's interactions with cell surface receptors such as NRP1 are also expected to affect its molecular interplay with VEGF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-41
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Angiogenesis
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Molecular systems biology
  • Soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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