Osteoarthritis (OA) is a painful and debilitating disease. A striking feature of OA is the dramatic increase in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels and in new blood vessel formation in the joints, both of which correlate with the severity of OA pain. Our aim was to determine whether anti-VEGF monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) – MF-1 (mAb to VEGFR1) and DC101 (mAb to VEGFR2) – can reduce OA pain and can do so by targeting VEGF signaling pathways such as Flt-1 (VEGFR1) and Flk-1 (VEGFR2). After IACUC approval, OA was induced by partial medial meniscectomy (PMM) in C57/BL6 mice (20 g). ln the first experiment, for validation of VEGFR1 in DRG, the mouse dorsal root ganglion (DRG) was stimulated with NGF for 48 h to find the relative gene induction for VEGFR1 vs. 18S by RT-PCR. In the second experiment, Biotin-conjugated VEGFA (1 μg/knee joint) was administered in the left knee joint of mice with advanced OA in order to characterization of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2. pVEGFR1/VEGFR2 was detected by immunostaining in DRGs. Finally, MF-1 and DC101 were administered in OA mice by both intrathecal (IT) and intraarticular (IA) injections, and the change in paw withdrawal threshold (PWT) was measured. Retrograde transport of VEGF was confirmed for detection of pVEGFR1/VEGFR2 in the DRG. PMM surgery led to development of OA and mechanical allodynia, with reduced paw withdrawal thresholds (PWT) (P < 0.0001). IT injection of MF-1 led to a reduction of allodynia in advanced OA, but injection of DC101 did not. IA injection of MF-1 or DC101 at one week after PMM injury did not reduce allodynia, but when injected in advanced OA mice joints at 12 weeks, both Mabs increased PWT an indicator of analgesia. Our data show that MF-1 (VEGR1 inhibition) decreases pain in advanced OA after IT or IA injection. Activation of MF-1 or DC101 may ameliorate OA-related joint pain.
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