Objective: Angiogenesis is the growth of new vessels from pre-existing vessels and commonly associated with two modes: capillary sprouting and capillary splitting. Previous work by our laboratory suggests vascular island incorporation might be another endothelial cell dynamic involved in microvascular remodeling. Vascular islands are defined as endothelial cell segments disconnected from nearby networks, but their origin remains unclear. The objective of this study was to determine whether vascular islands associated with microvascular regression are involved in network regrowth.
Methods: Mesenteric tissues were harvested from adult male Wistar rats according to the experimental groups: unstimulated, post stimulation (10 and 70 days), and 70 days post stimulation + restimulation (3 and 10 days). Stimulation was induced by mast cell degranulation via intraperitoneal injections of compound 48/80. Tissues were immunolabeled for PECAM (endothelial cells), neuron-glial antigen 2 (NG2) (pericytes), collagen IV (basement membrane), and BrdU (proliferation).
Results: Percent vascular area per tissue area and length density increased by day 10 post stimulation compared to the unstimulated group. At day 70, vascular area and length density were then decreased, indicating vascular regression compared to the day 10 levels. The number of vascular islands at day 10 post stimulation was dramatically reduced compared to the unstimulated group. During regression at day 70, the number of islands increased. The disconnected endothelial cells were commonly bridged to surrounding networks by collagen IV labeling. NG2-positive pericytes were observed both along the islands and the collagen IV tracks. At 3 days post restimulation, vascular islands contained BrdU-positive cells. By day 10 post restimulation, when vascular area and length density were again increased, and the number of vascular islands was dramatically reduced.
Conclusion: The results suggest that vascular islands originating during microvascular regression are capable of undergoing proliferation and incorporation into nearby networks during network regrowth.
angiogenesis; microcirculation; mesentery; proliferation; endothelial cell; disconnected segment; vascular island
Elevated blood pressure during hypertension has been associated with microvascular rarefaction defined by loss of microvessels. However, whether rarefaction is a result of impaired angiogenesis remains unclear. The objective of this study was to compare angiogenesis across the time course of mesenteric microvascular network remodeling in adult spontaneously hypertensive versus normotensive rats. Angiogenic responses in 15–16-week-old SHR and Wistar rats at 0, 3, 5, 10 or 25 days post 20 minute exteriorization of the mesentery were quantified. Consistent with the phenomenon of rarefaction, vascularized area in unstimulated SHR was decreased compared to Wistar. By 25 days, SHR vascular area had increased to the Wistar level and vascular length density and capillary sprouting were comparable. At 3 and 5 days, SHR and Wistar tissues displayed an increase in the capillary sprouting and vascular density relative to their unstimulated controls. At 10 days, capillary sprouting in the SHR remained elevated. The percent change in vascular density was elevated in the SHR compared to the Wistar group at 3 and 5 days and by 25 days the rate of change was more negative. Our results suggest that SHR networks undergo an increased rate of growth followed by an increased rate of pruning.
Hypertension; Angiogenesis; Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat; Microcirculation; Mesentery
Lymphatic and blood microvascular systems play a coordinated role in the regulation of interstitial fluid balance and immune cell trafficking during inflammation. The objective of this study was to characterize the temporal and spatial relationships between lymphatic and blood vessel growth in the adult rat mesentery following an inflammatory stimulus.
Methods and Results
Mesenteric tissues were harvested from unstimulated adult male Wistar rats and at 3, 10, and 30 days post compound 48/80 stimulation. Tissues were immunolabeled for PECAM, LYVE-1, Prox1, podoplanin, CD11b, and class III β-tubulin. Vascular area, capillary blind end density, and vascular length density were quantified for each vessel system per time point. Blood vascular area increased compared to unstimulated tissues by day 10 and remained increased at day 30. Following the peak in blood capillary sprouting at day 3, blood vascular area and density increased at day 10. The number of blind-ended lymphatic vessels and lymphatic density did not significantly increase until day 10, and lymphatic vascular area was not increased compared to the unstimulated level until day 30. Lymphangiogenesis correlated with the upregulation of class III β-tubulin expression by endothelial cells along lymphatic blind-ended vessels and increased lymphatic/blood endothelial cell connections. In local tissue regions containing both blood and lymphatic vessels, the presence of lymphatics attenuated blood capillary sprouting.
Our work suggests that lymphangiogenesis lags angiogenesis during inflammation and motivates the need for future investigations aimed at understanding lymphatic/blood endothelial cell interactions. The results also indicate that lymphatic endothelial cells undergo phenotypic changes during lymphangiogenesis.
Analyses of microvascular networks with traditional tracer filling techniques suggest that the blood and lymphatic systems are distinct without direct communications, yet involvement of common growth factors during angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis suggest that interactions at the capillary level are possible. In order to investigate the structural basis for lymphatic/blood endothelial cell connections during normal physiological growth, the objective of this study was to characterize the spatial relations between lymphatic and blood capillaries in adult rat mesenteric tissue. Using immunohistochemical methods, adult male Wistar rat mesenteric tissues were labeled with antibodies against PECAM (an endothelial marker) and LYVE-1, Prox-1, or Podoplanin (lymphatic endothelial markers) or NG2 (a pericyte marker). Positive PECAM labeling identified apparent lymphatic/blood endothelial cell connections at the capillary level characterized by direct contact or direct alignment with one another. In PECAM labeled networks, a subset of the lymphatic and blood capillary blind ends were connected with each other. Intravital imaging of FITC-Albumin injected through the femoral vein did not identify lymphatic vessels. At contact sites, lymphatic endothelial markers did not extend along blood capillary segments. However, PECAM positive lymphatic sprouts, structurally similar to blood capillary sprouts, lacked observable lymphatic marker labeling. These observations suggest that non-lumenal lymphatic/blood endothelial cell interactions exist in unstimulated adult microvascular networks and highlight the potential for lymphatic/blood endothelial cell plasticity.
Microcirculation; Angiogenesis; Lymphangiogenesis; Endothelial Cell
Structural microvascular rarefaction, defined by a loss of vessels, is a common characteristic of hypertension and has been associated with elevated microvascular resistance. However, determining the causal relationship between microvascular network structure and resistance requires a consideration of all pattern changes throughout a network. The objectives of this study were to determine whether microvascular rarefaction is associated with other network pattern alterations and to evaluate whether pattern alterations in hypertension necessarily contribute to increased microvascular resistance. Mesenteric tissues from age-matched (15–16 weeks) male spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats were harvested and immunolabeled for PECAM. SHR networks displayed a decreased microvascular area, arteriolar-venular (AV) length, number of AV branches, and number of capillary segments. In addition, SHR networks displayed increased AV connections per network compared to WKY networks. Based on network geometries, resistance per network was calculated using a computational model. For simulations with equal vessel diameter and with relative diameters based on reported intravital measurements, SHR microvascular network resistance was not elevated compared to the WKY level. Our results suggest that microvascular pattern alterations associated with hypertension are more complex than vessel loss, and that these combined alterations do not necessarily lead to elevated resistance.
Microcirculation; Rarefaction; Hypertension; Mesentery; Resistance; SHR
Microvascular rarefaction, defined by a loss of terminal arterioles, small venules and/or capillaries, is a common characteristic of the hypertension syndrome. While rarefaction has been associated with vessel specific free radical production, deficient leukocyte adhesion, and cellular apoptosis, the relationships of rarefaction with structural alterations at the network and cellular level remain largely unexplored. The objective of this study was to examine the architecture and perivascular cell phenotypes along microvascular networks in hypertensive versus normotensive controls in the context of imbalanced angiogenesis. Mesenteric tissues from age-matched adult male spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) and Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats were harvested and immnolabeled for PECAM and neuron-glia antigen 2 (NG2). Evaluation of intact rat mesenteric microvascular networks rats suggests that network alterations associated with hypertension are more complex than just a loss of vessels. Typical SHR versus WKY networks demonstrate a reduced branching architecture marked by more proximal arteriole/venous anastomoses and an absence of NG2 labeling along arterioles. Although less frequent, larger SHR microvascular networks display regions of dramatically increased vascular density. SHR and WKY lymphatic networks demonstrate increased vessel diameters and vascular density compared to networks in normotensive Wistar rats (the strain from which both the SHR and WKY originated). These observations provide a rationale for investigating the presence of local angiogenic factors and response of microvascular networks to therapies aimed at reversing rarefaction in genetic hypertension.
Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) has been shown to stimulate both angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis in some but not all models where VEGF-C is over-expressed. Our aim was to investigate the interaction between lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis in adult tissues regulated by VEGF-C and identify evidence of polarized growth of lymphatics driven by specialized cells at the tip of the growing sprout.
Methods and results
We used an adult model of lymphangiogenesis in the rat mesentery. The angiogenic effect of VEGF-C was markedly attenuated in the presence of a growing lymphatic network. Furthermore, we show that this growth of lymphatic vessels can occur both by recruitment of isolated lymphatic islands to a connected network and by filopodial sprouting. The latter is independent of polarized tip cell differentiation that can be generated all along lymphatic capillaries, independently of the proliferation status of the lymphatic endothelial cells.
These results both demonstrate a dependence of VEGF-C-mediated angiogenesis on lymphatic vascular networks and indicate that the mechanism of VEGF-C-mediated lymphangiogenesis is different from that of classical angiogenic mechanisms.
Angiogenesis; Lymphangiogenesis; VEGF-C; Sprouting
The presence of mast cells near capillary sprouting sites suggests an association between mast cells and angiogenesis. However, the role of mast cells in blood vessel development remains to be defined. In an attempt to elucidate this relationship, we investigated the effect of human mast cells (HMC-1) and their products on human dermal microvascular endothelial cell (HDMEC) tube formation. Coculture of HMC-1 with HDMEC led to a dose-response increase in the network area of vascular tube growth. Moreover, the extent of neovascularization was enhanced greatly when HMC-1 were degranulated in the presence of HDMEC. Further examination using antagonists to various mast cell products revealed a blunted response (73-88% decrease) in the area of vascular tube formation if specific inhibitors of tryptase were present. Tryptase (3 microg/ml) directly added to HDMEC caused a significant augmentation of capillary growth, which was suppressed by specific tryptase inhibitors. Tryptase also directly induced cell proliferation of HDMEC in a dose-dependent fashion (2 pM-2 nM). Our results suggest that mast cells act at sites of new vessel formation by secreting tryptase, which then functions as a potent and previously unrecognized angiogenic factor.
Effective tissue prevascularization depends on new vessel growth and subsequent progression of neovessels into a stable microcirculation. Isolated microvessel fragments in a collagen-based microvascular construct (MVC) spontaneously undergo angiogenesis in static conditions in vitro but form a new microcirculation only when implanted in vivo. We have designed a bioreactor, the dynamic in vitro perfusion (DIP) chamber, to culture MVCs in vitro with perfusion. By altering bioreactor circulation, microvessel fragments in the DIP chamber either maintained stable, nonsprouting, patent vessel morphologies or sprouted endothelial neovessels that extended out into the surrounding collagen matrix (i.e., angiogenesis), yielding networks of neovessels within the MVC. Neovessels formed in regions of the construct predicted by simulation models to have the steepest gradients in oxygen levels and expressed hypoxia inducible factor-1α. By altering circulation conditions in the DIP chamber, we can control, possibly by modulating hypoxic stress, prevascularizing activity in vitro.
Vascular compromise and the accompanying perfusion deficits cause or complicate a large array of disease conditions and treatment failures. This has prompted the exploration of therapeutic strategies to repair or regenerate vasculatures thereby establishing more competent microcirculatory beds. Growing evidence indicates that an increase in vessel numbers within a tissue does not necessarily promote an increase in tissue perfusion. Effective regeneration of a microcirculation entails the integration of new stable microvessel segments into the network via neovascularization. Beginning with angiogenesis, neovascularization entails an integrated series of vascular activities leading to the formation of a new mature microcirculation and includes vascular guidance and inosculation, vessel maturation, pruning, arterio-venous specification, network patterning, structural adaptation, intussusception, and microvascular stabilization. While the generation of new vessel segments is necessary to expand a network, without the concomitant neovessel remodeling and adaptation processes intrinsic to microvascular network formation, these additional vessel segments give rise to a dysfunctional microcirculation. While many of the mechanisms regulating angiogenesis have been detailed, a thorough understanding of the mechanisms driving post-angiogenesis activities specific to neovascularization has yet to be fully realized, but is necessary in order to develop effective therapeutic strategies for repairing compromised microcirculations as a means to treat disease.
Successful therapeutic angiogenesis requires an understanding of how the milieu of growth factors available combine to form a mature vascular bed. This requires a model in which multiple physiological and cell biological parameters can be identified. The adenoviral-mediated mesenteric angiogenesis assay as described here is ideal for that purpose. Adenoviruses expressing growth factors (vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF] and angiopoietin 1 [Ang-1]) were injected into the mesenteric fat pad of adult male Wistar rats. The clear, thin, and relatively avascular mesenteric panel was used to measure increased vessel perfusion by intravital microscopy. In addition, high-powered microvessel analysis was carried out by immunostaining of features essential for the study of angiogenesis (endothelium, pericyte, smooth muscle cell area, and proliferation), allowing functional data to be obtained in conjunction with high-power microvessel ultrastructural analysis. A combination of individual growth factors resulted in a distinct vascular phenotype from either factor alone, with all treatments increasing the functional vessel area. VEGF produced shorter, narrow, highly branched, and sprouting vessels with normal pericyte coverage. Ang-1 induced broader, longer neovessels with no apparent increase in branching or sprouting. However, Ang-1-induced blood vessels displayed a significantly higher pericyte ensheathment. Combined treatment resulted in higher perfusion, larger and less-branched vessels, with normal pericyte coverage, suggesting them to be more mature. This model can be used to show that Ang-1 and VEGF use different physiological mechanisms to enhance vascularisation of relatively avascular tissue.
Angiogenesis; angiopoietin 1; pericyte; VEGF
During neovascularization, the end result is a new functional microcirculation comprised of a network of mature microvessels with specific topologies. While much is known concerning the mechanisms underlying the initiation of angiogenesis, it remains unclear how the final architecture of microcirculatory beds is regulated. To begin to address this, we determined the impact of angiogenic neovessel pre-patterning on the final microvascular network topology using an implant model of implant neovascularization.
Methods and Results
To test this, we used 3-D direct-write bioprinting or physical constraints in a manner permitting post-angiogenesis vascular remodeling and adaptation to pattern angiogenic microvascular precursors (neovessels formed from isolated microvessel segments) in 3-dimensional collagen gels prior to implantation and subsequent network formation. Neovasculatures pre-patterned into parallel arrays formed functional networks following 4 weeks post-implantation, but lost the pre-patterned architecture. However, maintenance of uniaxial physical constraints during post-angiogenesis remodeling of the implanted neovasculatures produced networks with aligned microvessels as well as an altered proportional distribution of arterioles, capillaries and venules.
Here we show that network topology resulting from implanted microvessel precursors is independent from pre-patterning of precursors but can be influenced by a patterning stimulus involving tissue deformation during post-angiogenesis remodeling and maturation.
microcirculation; regeneration; bioprinting; vascular engineering; neovascularization
The canonical Wnt signaling pathway, heavily studied in development and cancer, has recently been implicated in microvascular growth with the use of developmental and in vitro models. To date, however, no study exists showing the effects of perturbing the canonical Wnt pathway in a complete microvascular network undergoing physiological remodeling in vivo. Our objective was to investigate the effects of canonical Wnt inhibition on the microvascular remodeling of adult rats.
Canonical Wnt inhibitor DKK-1, Wnt inhibitor sFRP-1, BSA or saline was superfused onto the exteriorized mesenteric windows of 300g adult female Sprague-Dawley rats for 20 minutes. Three days following surgery, mesenteric windows were imaged intravitally and harvested for immunofluorescence staining with smooth muscle alpha-actin and BRDU.
We observed prominent differences in the response of the mesenteric microvasculature amongst the various treatment groups. Significant increases in hemorrhage area, vascular density, and draining vessel diameter were observed in windows treated with Wnt inhibitors as compared to control-treated windows. Additionally, confocal imaging analysis showed significant increases in proliferating cells as well as evidence of proliferating smooth muscle cells along venules.
Together, our results suggest that canonical Wnt inhibition plays an important role in microvascular remodeling, specifically venular remodeling.
Wnt; Dickkopf-1 (DKK-1); secreted frizzled-related protein 1 (sFRP-1); venular remodeling; hemorrhage
Angiogenesis precedes recovery following spinal cord injury (SCI), and its extent correlates with neural regeneration suggesting that angiogenesis may play a role in repair. An important precondition for studying the role of angiogenesis is the ability to induce it in a controlled manner. Previously, we showed that a coculture of endothelial cells (ECs) and neural progenitor cells (NPCs) promoted the formation of stable tubes in vitro and stable, functional vascular networks in vivo in a subcutaneous model. We sought to test whether a similar coculture would lead to formation of stable functional vessels in the spinal cord following injury. We created microvascular networks in a biodegradable two component implant system and tested the ability of the coculture or controls (lesion control, implant alone, implant plus ECs, or implant plus NPCs) to promote angiogenesis in a rat hemisection model of spinal cord injury. The coculture implant led to a four fold increase in functional vessels compared to the lesion control, implant alone, or implant plus NPCs groups and a 2 fold increase in functional vessels over the implant plus ECs group. Furthermore, half of the vessels in the coculture implant exhibited positive staining for the endothelial barrier antigen, a marker for formation of the blood spinal cord barrier (BSB). No other groups showed positive staining for the BSB in the injury epicenter. This work provides a novel method to induce angiogenesis following SCI and a foundation for studying its role in repair.
rat; microvasculature; neural progenitor cells; endothelial cells; hydrogel; scaffold; PLGA; blood-spinal cord barrier
Angiogenesis of the microvasculature is central to the etiology of many diseases including proliferative retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and cancer. A mouse model of microvascular angiogenesis would be very valuable and enable access to a wide range of genetically manipulated tissues that closely approximate small blood vessel growth in vivo. Vascular endothelial cells cultured in vitro are widely used, however, isolating pure vascular murine endothelial cells is technically challenging. A microvascular mouse explant model that is robust, quantitative and can be reproduced without difficulty would overcome these limitations. Here we characterized and optimized for reproducibility an organotypic microvascular angiogenesis mouse and rat model from the choroid, a microvascular bed in the posterior of eye. The choroidal tissues from C57BL/6J and 129S6/SvEvTac mice and Sprague Dawley rats were isolated and incubated in Matrigel. Vascular sprouting was comparable between choroid samples obtained from different animals of the same genetic background. The sprouting area, normalized to controls, was highly reproducible between independent experiments. We developed a semi-automated macro in ImageJ software to allow for more efficient quantification of sprouting area. Isolated choroid explants responded to manipulation of the external environment while maintaining the local interactions of endothelial cells with neighboring cells, including pericytes and macrophages as evidenced by immunohistochemistry and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis. This reproducible ex vivo angiogenesis assay can be used to evaluate angiogenic potential of pharmacologic compounds on microvessels and can take advantage of genetically manipulated mouse tissue for microvascular disease research.
Notch4 is a member of the Notch family of transmembrane receptors that is expressed primarily on endothelial cells. Activation of Notch in various cell systems has been shown to regulate cell fate decisions. The sprouting of endothelial cells from microvessels, or angiogenesis, involves the modulation of the endothelial cell phenotype. Based on the function of other Notch family members and the expression pattern of Notch4, we postulated that Notch4 activation would modulate angiogenesis. Using an in vitro endothelial-sprouting assay, we show that expression of constitutively active Notch4 in human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1) inhibits endothelial sprouting. We also show that activated Notch4 inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced angiogenesis in the chick chorioallantoic membrane in vivo. Activated Notch4 does not inhibit HMEC-1 proliferation or migration through fibrinogen. However, migration through collagen is inhibited. Our data show that Notch4 cells exhibit increased β1-integrin-mediated adhesion to collagen. HMEC-1 expressing activated Notch4 do not have increased surface expression of β1-integrins. Rather, we demonstrate that Notch4-expressing cells display β1-integrin in an active, high-affinity conformation. Furthermore, using function-activating β1-integrin antibodies, we demonstrate that activation of β1-integrins is sufficient to inhibit VEGF-induced endothelial sprouting in vitro and angiogenesis in vivo. Our findings suggest that constitutive Notch4 activation in endothelial cells inhibits angiogenesis in part by promoting β1-integrin-mediated adhesion to the underlying matrix.
Notch signaling regulates vascular development. However, the implication of the Notch ligand Delta-like 4 (Dll4) in postischemic angiogenesis remains unclear.
We investigated the role of Dll4/Notch signaling in reparative angiogenesis using a mouse model of ischemia.
Methods and Results
We found Dll4 weakly expressed in microvascular endothelial cells of normoperfused muscles. Conversely, Dll4 is upregulated following ischemia and localized at the forefront of sprouting capillaries. We analyzed the effect of inhibiting endogenous Dll4 by intramuscular injection of an adenovirus encoding the soluble form of Dll4 extracellular domain (Ad-sDll4). Dll4 inhibition caused the formation of a disorganized, low-perfused capillary network in ischemic muscles. This structural abnormality was associated to delayed blood flow recovery and muscle hypoxia and degeneration. Analysis of microvasculature at early stages of repair revealed that Dll4 inhibition enhances capillary sprouting in a chaotic fashion and causes excessive leukocyte infiltration of ischemic muscles. Furthermore, Dll4 inhibition potentiated the elevation of the leukocyte chemoattractant CXCL1 (chemokine [C-X-C motif] ligand 1) following ischemia, without altering peripheral blood levels of stromal cell–derived factor-1 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. In cultured human monocytes, Dll4 induces the transcription of Notch target gene Hes-1 and inhibits the basal and tumor necrosis factor-α-stimulated production of interleukin-8, the human functional homolog of murine CXCL1. The inhibitory effect of Dll4 on interleukin-8 was abolished by DAPT, a Notch inhibitor, or by coculturing activated human monocytes with Ad-sDll4–infected endothelial cells.
Dll4/Notch interaction is essential for proper reparative angiogenesis. Moreover, Dll4/Notch signaling regulates sprouting angiogenesis and coordinates the interaction between inflammation and angiogenesis under ischemic conditions.
Dll4; Notch signaling; angiogenesis; inflammation; ischemia
Psoriatic skin is characterized by microvascular hyperpermeability and angioproliferation, but the mechanisms responsible are unknown. We report here that the hyperplastic epidermis of psoriatic skin expresses strikingly increased amounts of vascular permeability factor (VPF; vascular endothelial growth factor), a selective endothelial cell mitogen that enhances microvascular permeability. Moreover, two VPF receptors, kdr and flt-1, are overexpressed by papillary dermal microvascular endothelial cells. Transforming growth factor alpha (TGF- alpha), a cytokine that is also overexpressed in psoriatic epidermis, induced VPF gene expression by cultured epidermal keratinocytes. VPF secreted by TGF-alpha-stimulated keratinocytes was bioactive, as demonstrated by its mitogenic effect on dermal microvascular endothelial cells in vitro. Together, these findings suggest that TGF- alpha regulates VPF expression in psoriasis by an autocrine mechanism, leading to vascular hyperpermeability and angiogenesis. Similar mechanisms may operate in tumors and in healing skin wounds which also commonly express both VPF and TGF-alpha.
The success of therapeutic vascularization and tissue engineering will rely on our ability to create vascular networks using human cells that can be obtained readily, expanded safely ex vivo and produce robust vasculogenic activity in vivo. Here we describe the formation of functional microvascular beds in immunodeficient mice by co-implantation of human endothelial and mesenchymal progenitor cells (EPCs and MPCs) isolated from blood and bone marrow. Evaluation of implants after one week revealed an extensive network of human blood vessels containing erythrocytes, indicating the rapid formation of functional anastomoses within the host vasculature. The implanted EPCs were restricted to the luminal aspect of the vessels; MPCs were adjacent to lumens, confirming their role as perivascular cells. Importantly, the engineered vascular networks remained patent at 4 weeks in vivo. This rapid formation of long-lasting microvascular networks by postnatal progenitor cells obtained from non-invasive sources constitutes an important step forward in the development of clinical strategies for tissue vascularization.
Vascular networks; endothelial progenitor cells; mesenchymal stem cells; mesenchymal progenitor cells; tissue engineering; regenerative medicine; vasculogenesis; angiogenesis
We have previously demonstrated that implanted microvessels form a new microcirculation with minimal host-derived vessel investment. Our objective was to define the vascular phenotypes present during neovascularization in these implants and identify post-angiogenesis events. Morphological, functional and transcriptional assessments identified three distinct vascular phenotypes in the implants: sprouting angiogenesis, neovascular remodeling, and network maturation. A sprouting angiogenic phenotype appeared first, characterized by high proliferation and low mural cell coverage. This was followed by a neovascular remodeling phenotype characterized by a perfused, poorly organized neovascular network, reduced proliferation, and re-associated mural cells. The last phenotype included a vascular network organized into a stereotypical tree structure containing vessels with normal perivascular cell associations. In addition, proliferation was low and was restricted to the walls of larger microvessels. The transition from angiogenesis to neovascular remodeling coincided with the appearance of blood flow in the implant neovasculature. Analysis of vascular-specific and global gene expression indicates that the intermediate, neovascular remodeling phenotype is transcriptionally distinct from the other two phenotypes. Therefore, this vascular phenotype likely is not simply a transitional phenotype but a distinct vascular phenotype involving unique cellular and vascular processes. Furthermore, this neovascular remodeling phase may be a normal aspect of the general neovascularization process. Given that this phenotype is arguably dysfunctional, many of the microvasculatures present within compromised or diseased tissues may not represent a failure to progress appropriately through a normally occurring neovascularization phenotype.
neovascularization; neovessel; sprouting; angiogenesis; microvascular remodeling; microcirculation; structural adaptation; gene expression
The success of tissue engineering depends on the rapid and efficient formation of a functional blood vasculature. Adult blood vessels comprise endothelial cells and peri-vascular mural cells that assemble into patent tubules ensheathed by a basement membrane during angiogenesis. Using individual vessel components, we characterized intra-scaffold microvessel self-assembly efficiency in a physiological in vivo tissue engineering implant context. Primary human microvascular endothelial- and vascular smooth muscle cells were seeded at different ratios in poly-L lactic acid (PLLA) scaffolds enriched with basement membrane proteins (Matrigel) and implanted subcutaneously into immunocompromised mice. Temporal intra-scaffold microvessel formation, anastomosis and perfusion were monitored by immunohistochemical, flow cytometric and in vivo multiphoton fluorescence microscopy analysis. Vascularization in the tissue engineering context was strongly enhanced in the implants seeded with a complete complement of blood vessel components: Human microvascular endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells in vivo assembled a patent microvasculature within Matrigel-enriched PLLA scaffolds that anastomosed with the host circulation during the first week of implantation. Multiphoton fluorescence angiographic analysis of the intra-scaffold microcirculation showed a uniform, branched microvascular network. 3-D image reconstruction analysis of hPASMC distribution within vascularized implants was non-random and displayed a preferential peri-vascular localization. Hence, efficient microvessel self-assembly, anastomosis and establishment of a functional microvasculture in the native hypoxic in vivo tissue engineering context is promoted by providing a complete set of vascular components.
angiogenesis; scaffold; endothelial; mural cell; microcirculation; multiphoton
Myeloid cells have been associated with physiological and pathological angiogenesis, but their exact functions in these processes remain poorly defined. Monocyte-derived tissue macrophages of the CNS, or microglial cells, invade the mammalian retina before it becomes vascularized. Recent studies correlate the presence of microglia in the developing CNS with vascular network formation, but it is not clear whether the effect is directly caused by microglia and their contact with the endothelium.
We combined in vivo studies of the developing mouse retina with in vitro studies using the aortic ring model to address the role of microglia in developmental angiogenesis. Our in vivo analyses are consistent with previous findings that microglia are present at sites of endothelial tip-cell anastomosis, and genetic ablation of microglia caused a sparser vascular network associated with reduced number of filopodia-bearing sprouts. Addition of microglia in the aortic ring model was sufficient to stimulate vessel sprouting. The effect was independent of physical contact between microglia and endothelial cells, and could be partly mimicked using microglial cell-conditioned medium. Addition of VEGF-A promoted angiogenic sprouts of different morphology in comparison with the microglial cells, and inhibition of VEGF-A did not affect the microglia-induced angiogenic response, arguing that the proangiogenic factor(s) released by microglia is distinct from VEGF-A. Finally, microglia exhibited oriented migration towards the vessels in the aortic ring cultures.
Microglia stimulate vessel sprouting in the aortic ring cultures via a soluble microglial-derived product(s), rather than direct contact with endothelial cells. The observed migration of microglia towards the growing sprouts suggests that their position near endothelial tip-cells could result from attractive cues secreted by the vessels. Our data reveals a two-way communication between microglia and vessels that depends on soluble factors and should extend the understanding of how microglia promote vascular network formation.
A critical property of biomaterials for use in regenerative medicine applications is the ability to promote angiogenesis, the formation of new vascular networks, to support regenerating tissues. Recent studies have demonstrated that a complex interplay exists between biomechanical and biochemical regulators of endothelial cell sprouting, an early step in angiogenesis. Here, we use a microfluidic platform to study the pathfinding behaviors induced by various stable vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gradients during sprouting morphogenesis within biomaterials. Quantitative, time-lapse analysis of endothelial sprouting demonstrated that the ability of VEGF to regulate sprout orientation during several stages of sprouting morphogenesis (initiation, elongation, and turning navigation) was biomaterial dependent. Identical VEGF gradients induced different types of coordinated cell movements depending on the density of the surrounding collagen/fibronectin matrix. In denser matrices, sprouts were more likely to have an initial orientation aligned parallel to the VEGF gradient. In contrast, in less dense matrices, sprouts were more likely to initially misalign with the VEGF gradient; however, these sprouts underwent significant turning and navigation to eventually reorient to be parallel to the VEGF gradient. These less dense matrices required shallower VEGF gradients and demonstrated lower activating VEGF thresholds to induce proper sprout alignment and pathfinding. These results encourage the future use of microfluidic platforms to probe fundamental aspects of matrix effects on angiogenesis, to screen biomaterials for angiogenic potential, and to design ex vivo tissues with aligned vascular networks.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a central role in angiogenesis. A number of studies have focused on its role in health and disease and discussed the possibility of VEGF as both a therapeutic tool and target based on its specific actions on vascular proliferation and cell survival. On one side, anti-VEGF therapies are at the fore-front of treatment of many solid tumors, but blockade of VEGF carries collateral effects such as hypertension and renal damage largely due to abnormalities in the microvasculature. On the other hand, recent clinical and experimental evidence has shown the feasibility of using VEGF administration to protect ischemic tissues such as the myocardium or the kidney via stimulation of microvascular proliferation and repair. In this commentary, we discuss the possibility and potential mechanisms of using intra-renal administration of VEGF to preserve the renal microcirculation and, consequently, decrease progressive renal injury in chronic renovascular disease. Targeted administration of VEGF may constitute a novel stand-alone or co-adjuvant intervention with the potential to become a part of a comprehensive plan to protect renal function.
Platelet-endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1/CD31) is expressed on the surface of endothelial cells (EC) at high levels with important roles in angiogenesis and inflammation. However, the physiological role PECAM-1 plays during vascular development and angiogenesis remains largely unknown. Here we determined the role of PECAM-1 in the postnatal development of retinal vasculature and retinal neovascularization during oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy (OIR) using PECAM-1-deficient (PECAM-1-/-) mice. A significant decrease in retinal vascular density was observed in PECAM-1-/- mice compared with PECAM-1+/+ mice. This was attributed to a decreased number of EC in the retinas of PECAM-1-/- mice. An increase in the rate of apoptosis was observed in retinal vessels of PECAM-1-/- mice, which was compensated, in part, by an increase in the rate of proliferation. However, the development and regression of hyaloid vasculature was not affected in the absence of PECAM-1. We did not observe a significant defect in astrocytes, the number of endothelial tip cell filopodias, and the rate of developing retinal vasculature progression in PECAM-1-/- mice. However, we observed aberrant organization of arterioles and venules, decreased secondary branching, and dilated vessels in retinal vasculature of PECAM-1-/- mice. In addition, retinal neovascularization was attenuated in PECAM-1-/- mice during OIR despite an expression of VEGF similar to that of PECAM-1+/+ mice. Mechanistically, these changes were associated with an increase in EphB4 and Ephrin B2, and a decrease in eNOS, expression in retinal vasculature of PECAM-1-/- mice. These results suggest PECAM-1 expression and its potential interactions with EphB4/Ephrin B2 and eNOS are important for survival, migration, and functional organization of EC during retinal vascular development and angiogenesis.
CD31; Angiogenesis; Apoptosis; Retinal Vascularization; Retinopathy of Prematurity; Hyaloid Vasculature; Retinal Endothelial Cells