Impaired angiogenesis has been implicated in adipose tissue dysfunction and the development of obesity and associated metabolic disorders. Here, we report the unexpected finding that vascular endothelial growth factor B (VEGFB) gene transduction into mice inhibits obesity-associated inflammation and improves metabolic health without changes in body weight or ectopic lipid deposition. Mechanistically, the binding of VEGFB to VEGF receptor 1 (VEGFR1, also known as Flt1) activated the VEGF/VEGFR2 pathway and increased capillary density, tissue perfusion, and insulin supply, signaling, and function in adipose tissue. Furthermore, endothelial Flt1 gene deletion enhanced the effect of VEGFB, activating the thermogenic program in subcutaneous adipose tissue, which increased the basal metabolic rate, thus preventing diet-induced obesity and related metabolic complications. In obese and insulin-resistant mice, Vegfb gene transfer, together with endothelial Flt1 gene deletion, induced weight loss and mitigated the metabolic complications, demonstrating the therapeutic potential of the VEGFB/VEGFR1 pathway.
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