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Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and its receptors Flt-1 and Flk-1 was studied in lumbar spinal cord after sciatic nerve crush injury. Immunohistochemical staining revealed strikingly different distribution of VEGF, Flt-1, and Flk-1 in lumbar motor neurons. VEGF was observed both in the nuclei and perikarya, while Flk-1 had cytoplasmic and Flt-1 perinuclear localization. Real-time RT-PCR showed a significant increase in the expression of VEGF and Flt-1 on the injured side of the lumbar spinal cord. The increased level of VEGF was also detected by immunoblot. Here we show that lumbar motor neurons increase the expression of VEGF and Flt-1 in response to injury. We propose that VEGF/Flt-1 signaling may be involved in regeneration of the spinal motor neurons.

(C) 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.