Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) activates ERK and p38 MAPK in endothelial cells (ECs). The present study was aimed to compare its intracellular signal transduction pathways between three primary cultures of human ECs including human aortic ECs (HAECs), human umbilical vein ECs (HUVECs), and human microvascular ECs (HMVECs). VEGF activated ERK and p38 MAPK in all of three ECs. Isoforms of p38 MAPK that were activated by VEGF in HUVECs were p38-α and p38-δ. GF109203X, a specific inhibitor of PKC, markedly inhibited VEGF-induced activation of ERK and p38 MAPK in HAECs and HUVECs, whereas it exhibited little effect in HMVECs. In contrast, dominant negative mutant of HaRas almost completely abrogated VEGF-induced activation of ERK and p38 MAPK in HMVECs. Although dominant negative mutant of Ha-Ras substantially inhibited the basal activities of ERK and p38 MAPK, it exhibited marginal effect on VEGF-induced activation of ERK and p38 MAPK in HUVECs and HAECs. The activation of Ras by VEGF appeared to be most prominent in HMVECs. These results indicate that intracellular signal transduction pathways for VEGF-induced activation of MAPKs are heterogeneous and vary depending on the origin of ECs.
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