The combination of adhesion and migration of endothelial cells (ECs) is an integral process for evolution, organization, repair and vessel formation in living organisms. Agmatine, a polycationic amine existing in brain, has been investigated to exert neuroprotective effects. Up to date, there are no studies reporting that agmatine modulates murine brain endothelial (bEnd.3) cells migration. In the present study, we intend to investigate the role of agmatine in bEnd.3 cells migration and the molecular mechanism mediating this action.
The effect of agmatine on the bEnd.3 cells migration was examined by migration assay, and the mechanism involved for this effect was investigated by western blot analysis and NO contents measurements.
Agmatine treatment (50, 100 and 200 μM) significantly accelerated bEnd.3 cells migration in a concentration-dependent manner. Western blotting revealed that agmatine treatment significantly induced vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), VEGF receptor 2 (Flk-1/KDR or VEGFR2), phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), Akt/protein kinase B (also known as PKB, PI3K downstream effector protein), endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) nitric oxide (NO; product by eNOS) and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) expressions during bEnd.3 cells migration. The expression of ICAM-1 and migration of bEnd.3 cells, induced by agmatine, were significantly attenuated by treatment of wortmannin, a specific PI3K inhibitor.
Taken together, we provide the first evidence that activation of VEGF/VEGFR2 and the consequential PI3K/Akt/eNOS/NO/ICAM-1 signaling pathways are serial events, through which the treatment of agmatine could lead to bEnd.3 cells migration.