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Species-specific regulation of angiogenesis by glucocorticoids reveals contrasting effects on inflammatory and angiogenic pathways

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Brian WalkerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Glucocorticoids are potent inhibitors of angiogenesis in the rodent in vivo and in vitro but the mechanism by which this occurs has not been determined. Administration of glucocorticoids is used to treat a number of conditions in horses but the angiogenic response of equine vessels to glucocorticoids and, therefore, the potential role of glucocorticoids in pathogenesis and treatment of equine disease, is unknown. This study addressed the hypothesis that glucocorticoids would be angiostatic both in equine and murine blood vessels.The mouse aortic ring model of angiogenesis was adapted to assess the effects of cortisol in equine vessels. Vessel rings were cultured under basal conditions or exposed to: foetal bovine serum (FBS; 3%); cortisol (600 nM), cortisol (600nM) plus FBS (3%), cortisol (600nM) plus either the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU486 or the mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist spironolactone. In murine aortae cortisol inhibited and FBS stimulated new vessel growth. In contrast, in equine blood vessels FBS alone had no effect but cortisol alone, or in combination with FBS, dramatically increased new vessel growth compared with controls. This effect was blocked by glucocorticoid receptor antagonism but not by mineralocorticoid antagonism. The transcriptomes of murine and equine angiogenesis demonstrated cortisol-induced down-regulation of inflammatory pathways in both species but up-regulation of pro-angiogenic pathways selectively in the horse. Genes up-regulated in the horse and down-regulated in mice were associated with the extracellular matrix. These data call into question our understanding of glucocorticoids as angiostatic in every species and may be of clinical relevance in the horse

Publication metadata

Author(s): Morgan R, Keen J, Halligan D, O'Callaghan A, Andrew R, Livingstone D, Abernethie A, Maltese G, Walker B, Hadoke P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2018

Volume: 13

Issue: 2

Online publication date: 15/02/2018

Acceptance date: 30/01/2018

Date deposited: 22/02/2018

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: PLoS


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192746

PubMed id: 29447208


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