AIMS: Soluble angiogenic factors could be altered in patients with Crohn's disease (CD), since inflammation and angiogenesis may play a critical pathogenic role. METHODS: Serum samples were collected from 30 patients with CD (50% female; median age 44 ± 14 yrs) grouped according to their phenotypic behavior into equal subgroups: inflammatory, fibrostenotic and fistulizing; and 30 healthy controls (50% female; median age 43 ± 14 yrs). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), placental growth factor (PlGF), angiopoietins (Ang) and receptors (VEGFR1, VEGFR2 and Tie2) in sera were assayed by ELISA. RESULTS: Serum levels of VEGF (494 ± 247 pg/ml), PlGF (36 ± 11 pg/ml), VEGFR1 (1.9 ± 0.3 ng/ml), Ang2 (6.0 ± 2.3 ng/ml) and Tie2 (36 ± 5 ng/ml) in CD patients were significantly higher than those found in healthy controls (335 ± 118 pg/ml; 23 ± 9 pg/ml; 1.0 ± 0.3 ng/ml; 3.9 ± 2.0 ng/ml; 22 ± 7 ng/ml, respectively). Conversely, CD patients showed significantly lower serum levels of Ang1 than healthy controls (46 ± 11 versus 67 ± 23 pg/ml). In the case of VEGFR2 serum levels, no differences between groups were found. Finally, patients with fibrostenotic CD were characterized by elevated VEGF and Ang2 levels, while patients with an inflammatory phenotype by elevated Tie2 and PlGF levels. CONCLUSIONS: An activated «pro-angiogenic» profile of angiogenesis soluble markers was observed in CD patients, in comparison with healthy controls. According to the phenotypic behavior, these patients showed differences in serum levels of angiogenic factors.
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