Therapeutic angiogenesis represents an emerging strategy to treat ischemic diseases by stimulating blood vessel growth to rescue local blood perfusion. Therefore, injured microvasculature may be repaired by stimulating resident endothelial cells or circulating endothelial colony forming cells (ECFCs) or by autologous cell-based therapy. Endothelial Ca2+
signals represent a crucial player in angiogenesis and vasculogenesis; indeed, several angiogenic stimuli induce neovessel formation through an increase in intracellular Ca2+
concentration. Several members of the Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channel superfamily are expressed and mediate Ca2+
-dependent functions in vascular endothelial cells and in ECFCs, the only known truly endothelial precursor. TRP Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1), a polymodal cation channel, is emerging as an important player in endothelial cell migration, proliferation, and tubulogenesis, through the integration of several chemical stimuli. Herein, we first summarize TRPV1 structure and gating mechanisms. Next, we illustrate the physiological roles of TRPV1 in vascular endothelium, focusing our attention on how endothelial TRPV1 promotes angiogenesis. In particular, we describe a recent strategy to stimulate TRPV1-mediated pro-angiogenic activity in ECFCs, in the presence of a photosensitive conjugated polymer. Taken together, these observations suggest that TRPV1 represents a useful target in the treatment of ischemic diseases.
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