The regulatory role of hepatoma-derived growth factor as an angiogenic factor in the eye

Michelle E. LeBlanc, Weiwen Wang, Xiuping Chen, Yanli Ji, Akhalesh Shakya, Chen Shen, Chenming Zhang, Vivianne Gonzalez, Megan Brewer, Jian Xing Ma, Rong Wen, Fangliang Zhang, Wei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: Hepatoma-derived growth factor (HDGF) is a mitogen that promotes endothelial proliferation and neuronal survival. Using a unique technology of ligandomics, we recently identified HDGF as a retinal endothelial binding protein. The purpose of this study is to examine the role of HDGF in regulating ocular vasculature and the expression of HDGF in the retina. Methods: HDGF expression in the retinal was analyzed with western blot and immunohistochemistry. Angiogenic activity was investigated in human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMVECs) with in vitro endothelial proliferation, migration, and permeability assays. In vivo angiogenic activity was quantified with a corneal pocket assay. The Evans blue assay and western blot using anti-mouse albumin were performed to detect the capacity of HDGF to induce retinal vascular leakage. Results: Immunohistochemistry revealed that HDGF is expressed in the retina with a distinct pattern. HDGF was detected in retinal ganglion cells and the inner nuclear layer but not in the inner plexiform layer, suggesting that HDGF is expressed in the nucleus, but not in the cytoplasm, of retinal neurons. In contrast to family member HDGF-related protein 3 (HRP-3) that has no expression in photoreceptors, HDGF is also present in the outer nuclear layer and the inner and outer segments of photoreceptors. This suggests that HDGF is expressed in the nucleus as well as the cytoplasm of photoreceptors. In vitro functional assays showed that HDGF induced the proliferation, migration, and permeability of HRMVECs. Corneal pocket assay indicated that HDGF directly stimulated angiogenesis in vivo. Intravitreal injection of HDGF significantly induced retinal vascular leakage. Conclusions: These results suggest that HDGF is an angiogenic factor that regulates retinal vasculature in physiologic and pathological conditions. Identification of HDGF by ligandomics and its independent characterization in this study also support the validity of this new technology for systematic identification of cellular ligands, including angiogenic factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-386
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular vision
StatePublished - Apr 23 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


Dive into the research topics of 'The regulatory role of hepatoma-derived growth factor as an angiogenic factor in the eye'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this