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Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a glycoprotein that plays an important role in neovascularization and increases vascular permeability. We reported that VEGF is involved in motion pain of patients with rotator cuff disease by causing synovial proliferation in the subacromial bursa (SAB). The present study investigates whether VEGF is also involved in the development of shoulder contracture in diabetics with rotator cuff disease. We examined 67 patients with rotator cuff disease, including 36 with complete cuff tears, 20 with incomplete tears, and 11 without apparent tears (subacromial bursitis). The patients were into groups according to the presence or absence of diabetes (14 type II diabetics and 53 non-diabetics). Specimens of the synovium of the SAB were obtained from all patients during surgery. Expression of the VEGF gene in the synovium of the subacromial bursa was evaluated by using the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. The VEGF protein was localized by immunohistochemistry, and the number of vessels was evaluated based on CD34 immunoreactivity. The results showed that VEGF mRNA was expressed in significantly more diabetics (100%, 14/14) than in non-diabetics (70%, 37/53) (P=0.0159, Fisher's test). Investigation of VEGF isoform expression revealed VEGF121 in all 14 diabetics and in 37 of the 53 non-diabetics, VEGF165 in 12 of the 14 diabetics and in 21 of the 53 non-diabetics, and VEGF189 in 1 of the 14 diabetics and in 2 of the 53 non-diabetics. No VEGF206 was expressed in either group. VEGF protein was localized in both vascular endothelial cells and synovial lining cells. The mean number of VEGF-positive vessels and the vessel area were also significantly greater in the diabetics (p<0.015, Mann-Whitney U test). Synovial proliferation and shoulder joint contracture were more common in the diabetics (P=0.0329 and P=0.073, respectively; Fisher's test). The mean preoperative range of shoulder motion significantly differed in terms of elevation between two groups: 103.8 degrees in diabetics and 124.9 degrees in no diabetics (p=0.0039 Mann-Whitney U test). In contrast, external rotation did not significantly differ: 44 degrees in diabetics and 49 degrees in non-diabetics (p=0.4957, Mann-Whitney U test). These results suggest that VEGF121 and VEGF165 expression in the SAB is responsible for the development of shoulder joint contracture, especially in elevation, among type II diabetic patients with rotator cuff disease.

Original publication




Journal article


J Orthop Res

Publication Date





1138 - 1144


Acromioclavicular Joint, Adult, Aged, Bursa, Synovial, Contracture, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Humans, Middle Aged, Rotator Cuff, Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, Shoulder Joint, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A