Crataeva tapia bark lectin (CrataBL) is a chemoattractant for endothelial cells that targets heparan sulfate and promotes in vitro angiogenesis.
Formation of new blood vessels from preexisting ones, a process known as angiogenesis, is one of the limiting steps for success in treatment of ischemic disorders. Therefore, efforts to understanding and characterize new agents capable to stimulate neovascularization are a worldwide need. Crataeva tapia bark lectin (CrataBL) has been shown to have chemoattractant properties for endothelial cells through the stimulation of migration and invasiveness of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) because it is a positively charged protein with high affinity to glycosaminoglycan. In addition, CrataBL increased the production of chondroitin and heparan sulfate in endothelial cells. These findings orchestrated specific adhesion on collagen I and phosphorylation of tyrosine kinase receptors, represented by vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) and fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR), whose downstream pathways trigger the angiogenic cascade increasing cell viability, cytoskeleton rearrangement, cell motility, and tube formation. Moreover, CrataBL inhibited the activity of matrix metalloproteases type 2 (MMP-2), a protein related to tissue remodeling. Likewise, CrataBL improved wound healing and increased the number of follicular structures in lesioned areas produced in the dorsum-cervical region of C57BL/6 mice. These outcomes altogether indicate that CrataBL is a pro-angiogenic and healing agent.