Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease of unknown aetiology but increasing evidence suggests that cutaneous angiogenesis plays an important role. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the pro-angiogenic cytokines which is related to the pathogenesis of psoriasis. Our study evaluated the influence of imiquimod (IMQ) on VEGF in IMQ-induced mouse model.
Balb/c female mice (n=16) 8-12 weeks of age were randomly divided into an experimental group (5% IMQ cream) and the control group (Vaseline cream). Serum levels of circulating VEGF-A were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. VEGF protein expression in tested skin was measured by western blotting and immunohistochemical staining.
The tested skin in the experimental group expressed higher levels of VEGF protein than in the control group (p=0.012); immunohistochemical staining revealed that the cells over-expressing VEGF localized predominantly in the epidermis and vascular endothelium. Circulating VEGF-A levels showed no significant difference between the experimental and control groups (p=0.445).
The IMQ-induced mouse psoriatic model showed an upregulation of VEGF in the skin lesions mimicking human psoriasis but the circulating VEGF-A levels showed no difference. This model may be useful to investigate the role of angiogenesis in psoriasis.