At low doses, ionizing radiation activates endothelial cells and promotes angiogenesis. However, it is still unknown if other cells may contribute to this process. In this study, the effect of low-dose ionizing radiation (LDIR) in modulating the pro-angiogenic potential of adipocytes was investigated. Adipocytes are known to secrete multiple angiogenic factors and adipokines that induce angiogenesis. In this work, a confluent monolayer of 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes was exposed to low doses (0.1 and 0.3 Gy) and to higher doses (0.5, 0.8 and 1.0 Gy), as control. Our data show that the adipocyte-conditioned media (A-CM) from mature adipocytes differentiated from low-dose irradiated pre-adipocytes presented a higher angiogenic potential, compared to mature adipocytes differentiated from sham-irradiated control preadipocytes. The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A levels were significantly increased in A-CM from the 0.1 Gy (P < 0.05) and 0.3 Gy (P < 0.01) experimental conditions and a significant increase was found in response to 0.3 Gy dose of radiation for VEGF-C, angiopoietin-2 (ANG-2) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Moreover, 0.3 Gy dose of radiation significantly increased the expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 active forms. In vitro, the A-CM from the 0.1 and 0.3 Gy doses experimental conditions significantly accelerated endothelial cell migration after an in vitro wound healing assay. Importantly, in vivo, the A-CM corresponding to the 0.3 Gy experimental condition significantly induced the growth of more blood vessels towards the inoculation area in the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM). In conclusion, this work reveals a new mechanism by which low-dose radiation might promote angiogenesis, enhancing the angiogenic potential of A-CM.

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