Open Access Research

Angiopoietin-1 variant reduces LPS-induced microvascular dysfunction in a murine model of sepsis

Alessio Alfieri1*, Jay J Watson1, Richard A Kammerer2, Mohammed Tasab3, Pavlos Progias3, Kimberly Reeves1, Nicola J Brown1 and Zoe L Brookes1

Author Affiliations

1 Microcirculation Research Group, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2RX, UK

2 Laboratory of Biomolecular Research, Paul Scherrer Institut, CH-5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland

3 Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK

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Critical Care 2012, 16:R182  doi:10.1186/cc11666

See related commentary by Spicer and Calfee,

Published: 4 October 2012



Severe sepsis is characterised by intravascular or extravascular infection with microbial agents, systemic inflammation and microcirculatory dysfunction, leading to tissue damage, organ failure and death. The growth factor angiopoietin (Ang-1) has therapeutic potential but recombinant Ang-1 tends to aggregate and has a short half-life in vivo. This study aimed to investigate the acute effects of the more stable Ang-1 variant matrilin-1-angiopoietin-1 (MAT.Ang-1) on the function of the microcirculation in an experimental model of sepsis, and whether any protection by MAT-Ang-1 was associated with modulation of inflammatory cytokines, angiogenic factors or the endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS)-Akt and vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin pathways.


Aluminium window chambers were implanted into the dorsal skinfold of male C3H/HeN mice (7 to 10 weeks old) to expose the striated muscle microcirculation. Endotoxemia was induced by intraperitoneal injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 1 mg/kg at 0 and 19 hours). MAT.Ang-1 was administered intravenously 20 hours after the onset of sepsis. Microcirculatory function was evaluated by intravital microscopy and Doppler fluximetry.


Endotoxemia resulted in macromolecular leak, which was ameliorated by MAT.Ang-1 post-treatment. LPS induced a dramatic reduction in tissue perfusion, which was improved by MAT.Ang-1. Proteome profiler array analysis of skeletal muscle also demonstrated increased inflammatory and reduced angiogenic factors during endotoxemia. MAT.Ang-1 post-treatment reduced the level of IL-1β but did not significantly induce the expression of angiogenic factors. MAT.Ang-1 alone did not induce leak or increase angiogenic factors but did reduce vascular endothelial growth factor expression in controls.


Administration of MAT.Ang-1 after the onset of sepsis protects the microcirculation from endotoxemia-induced vascular dysfunction through reducing inflammation but without pro-angiogenic actions, thus representing a novel, potential pharmacotherapeutic agent for the treatment of sepsis.