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1.  Formation of Microvascular Networks: Role of Stromal Interactions Directing Angiogenic Growth 
In the adult, angiogenesis leads to an expanded microvascular network as new vessel segments are added to an existing microcirculation. Necessarily, growing neovessels must navigate through tissue stroma as they locate and grow toward other vessel elements. We have a growing body of evidence demonstrating that angiogenic neovessels reciprocally interact with the interstitial matrix of the stroma resulting in directed neovascular growth during angiogenesis. Given the compliance and the viscoelastic properties of collagen, neovessel guidance by the stroma is likely due to compressive strain transverse to the direction of primary tensile forces present during active tissue deformation. Similar stromal strains control the final network topology of the new microcirculation, including the distribution of arterioles, capillaries, and venules. In this case, stromal-derived stimuli must be present during the post-angiogenesis remodeling and maturation phases of neovascularization to have this effect. Interestingly, the preexisting organization of vessels prior to the start of angiogenesis has no lasting influence on the final, new network architecture. Combined, the evidence describes interplay between angiogenic neovessels and stroma that is important in directed neovessel growth and invasion. This dynamic is also likely a mechanism by which global tissue forces influence vascular form and function.
PMCID: PMC4032604  PMID: 24447042
angiogenesis; stroma; matrix; neovessel; remodeling
2.  Microvascular Repair: Post-Angiogenesis Vascular Dynamics 
Microcirculation (New York, N.Y. : 1994)  2012;19(8):10.1111/j.1549-8719.2012.00207.x.
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.
PMCID: PMC3842172  PMID: 22734666
3.  Direct-write Bioprinting Three-Dimensional Biohybrid Systems for Future Regenerative Therapies 
Regenerative medicine seeks to repair or replace dysfunctional tissues with engineered biological or biohybrid systems. Current clinical regenerative models utilize simple uniform tissue constructs formed with cells cultured onto biocompatible scaffolds. Future regenerative therapies will require the fabrication of complex three-dimensional constructs containing multiple cell types and extracellular matrices. We believe bioprinting technologies will provide a key role in the design and construction of future engineered tissues for cell-based and regenerative therapies. This review describes the current state-of-the-art bioprinting technologies, focusing on direct-write bioprinting. We describe a number of process and device considerations for successful bioprinting of composite biohybrid constructs. In addition, we have provided baseline direct-write printing parameters for a hydrogel system (Pluronic F127) often used in cardiovascular applications. Direct-write dispensed lines (gels with viscosities ranging from 30 mPa*s to greater than 600×106 mPa*s) were measured following mechanical and pneumatic printing via three commercially available needle sizes (20ga, 25ga, and 30ga). Example patterns containing microvascular cells and isolated microvessel fragments were also bioprinted into composite 3D structures. Cells and vessel fragments remained viable and maintained in vitro behavior after incorporation into biohybrid structures. Direct-write bioprinting of biologicals provides a unique method to design and fabricate complex, multi-component 3D structures for experimental use. We hope our design insights and baseline parameter descriptions of direct-write bioprinting will provide a useful foundation for colleagues to incorporate this 3D fabrication method into future regenerative therapies.
PMCID: PMC3772543  PMID: 21504055
Bioprinting; Regenerative Medicine; Tissue Engineering; Hydrogels; Biohybrid Devices
4.  Manipulating the Microvasculature and Its Microenvironment 
The microvasculature is a dynamic cellular system necessary for tissue health and function. Therapeutic strategies that target the microvasculature are expanding and evolving, including those promoting angiogenesis and microvascular expansion. When considering how to manipulate angiogenesis, either as part of a tissue construction approach or a therapy to improve tissue blood flow, it is important to know the microenvironmental factors that regulate and direct neovessel sprouting and growth. Much is known concerning both diffusible and matrix-bound angiogenic factors, which stimulate and guide angiogenic activity. How the other aspects of the extravascular microenvironment, including tissue biomechanics and structure, influence new vessel formation is less well known. Recent research, however, is providing new insights into these mechanisms and demonstrating that the extent and character of angiogenesis (and the resulting new microcirculation) is significantly affected. These observations and the resulting implications with respect to tissue construction and microvascular therapy are addressed.
PMCID: PMC4096003  PMID: 24580565
angiogenesis; microvessels; microvascular orientation; microvascular remodeling; microvessel guidance; three-dimensional (3D) vascular constructs; matrix mechanics
5.  Determinants of Microvascular Network Topologies in Implanted Neovasculatures 
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.
PMCID: PMC3256738  PMID: 22053070
microcirculation; regeneration; bioprinting; vascular engineering; neovascularization
6.  Adipose-Derived Cell Construct Stabilizes Heart Function and Increases Microvascular Perfusion in an Established Infarct 
Stem Cells Translational Medicine  2013;2(11):896-905.
This study investigated the cardiac recovery potential of a stromal vascular fraction (SVF) construct implanted onto an established infarct. Findings suggest that SVF treatment of an established infarct stabilizes the heart at the time point of intervention by preventing a worsening of cardiac performance and infarcted volume and increasing perfusion of the microcirculation.
We have previously shown that myocardial infarction (MI) immediately treated with an epicardial construct containing stromal vascular fraction (SVF) from adipose tissue preserved microvascular function and left ventricle contractile mechanisms. In order to evaluate a more clinically relevant condition, we investigated the cardiac recovery potential of an SVF construct implanted onto an established infarct. SVF cells were isolated from rat adipose tissue, plated on Vicryl, and cultured for 14 days. Fischer-344 rats were separated into MI groups: (a) 6-week MI (MI), (b) 6-week MI treated with an SVF construct at 2 weeks (MI SVF), (c) 6-week MI with Vicryl construct at 2 weeks (MI Vicryl), and (d) MI 2wk (time point of intervention). Emax, an indicator of systolic performance and contractile function, was lower in the MI and MI Vicryl versus MI SVF. Positron emission tomography imaging (18F-fluorodeoxyglucose) revealed a decreased percentage of relative infarct volume in the MI SVF versus MI and MI Vicryl. Total vessel count and percentage of perfusion assessed via immunohistochemistry were both increased in the infarct region of MI SVF versus MI and MI Vicryl. Overall cardiac function, percentage of relative infarct, and percentage of perfusion were similar between MI SVF and MI 2wk; however, total vessel count increased after SVF treatment. These data suggest that SVF treatment of an established infarct stabilizes the heart at the time point of intervention by preventing a worsening of cardiac performance and infarcted volume, and is associated with increased microvessel perfusion in the area of established infarct.
PMCID: PMC3808204  PMID: 24106337
Angiogenesis; Adipose stem cells; Stromal cells; Cardiac; Microvasculature
7.  Mechanically Induced Intercellular Calcium Communication in Confined Endothelial Structures 
Biomaterials  2013;34(8):2049-2056.
Calcium signaling in the diverse vascular structures is regulated by a wide range of mechanical and biochemical factors to maintain essential physiological functions of the vasculature. To properly transmit information, the intercellular calcium communication mechanism must be robust against various conditions in the cellular microenvironment. Using plasma lithography geometric confinement, we investigate mechanically induced calcium wave propagation in networks of human umbilical vein endothelial cells organized. Endothelial cell networks with confined architectures were stimulated at the single cell level, including using capacitive force probes. Calcium wave propagation in the network was observed using fluorescence calcium imaging. We show that mechanically induced calcium signaling in the endothelial networks is dynamically regulated against a wide range of probing forces and repeated stimulations. The calcium wave is able to propagate consistently in various dimensions from monolayers to individual cell chains, and in different topologies from linear patterns to cell junctions. Our results reveal that calcium signaling provides a robust mechanism for cell-cell communication in networks of endothelial cells despite the diversity of the microenvironmental inputs and complexity of vascular structures.
PMCID: PMC3542404  PMID: 23267827
plasma lithography; micropatterning; calcium; endothelial cell; cell signaling
8.  Extracellular Matrix Density Regulates the Rate of Neovessel Growth and Branching in Sprouting Angiogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85178.
Angiogenesis is regulated by the local microenvironment, including the mechanical interactions between neovessel sprouts and the extracellular matrix (ECM). However, the mechanisms controlling the relationship of mechanical and biophysical properties of the ECM to neovessel growth during sprouting angiogenesis are just beginning to be understood. In this research, we characterized the relationship between matrix density and microvascular topology in an in vitro 3D organ culture model of sprouting angiogenesis. We used these results to design and calibrate a computational growth model to demonstrate how changes in individual neovessel behavior produce the changes in vascular topology that were observed experimentally. Vascularized gels with higher collagen densities produced neovasculatures with shorter vessel lengths, less branch points, and reduced network interconnectivity. The computational model was able to predict these experimental results by scaling the rates of neovessel growth and branching according to local matrix density. As a final demonstration of utility of the modeling framework, we used our growth model to predict several scenarios of practical interest that could not be investigated experimentally using the organ culture model. Increasing the density of the ECM significantly reduced angiogenesis and network formation within a 3D organ culture model of angiogenesis. Increasing the density of the matrix increases the stiffness of the ECM, changing how neovessels are able to deform and remodel their surroundings. The computational framework outlined in this study was capable of predicting this observed experimental behavior by adjusting neovessel growth rate and branching probability according to local ECM density, demonstrating that altering the stiffness of the ECM via increasing matrix density affects neovessel behavior, thereby regulated vascular topology during angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3898992  PMID: 24465500
9.  Dissecting the Role of Human Embryonic Stem Cell–Derived Mesenchymal Cells in Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cell Network Stabilization in Three-Dimensional Environments 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2012;19(1-2):211-223.
The microvasculature is principally composed of two cell types: endothelium and mural support cells. Multiple sources are available for human endothelial cells (ECs) but sources for human microvascular mural cells (MCs) are limited. We derived multipotent mesenchymal progenitor cells from human embryonic stem cells (hES-MC) that can function as an MC and stabilize human EC networks in three-dimensional (3D) collagen-fibronectin culture by paracrine mechanisms. Here, we have investigated the basis for hES-MC-mediated stabilization and identified the pleiotropic growth factor hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) as a putative hES-MC-derived regulator of EC network stabilization in 3D in vitro culture. Pharmacological inhibition of the HGF receptor (Met) (1 μm SU11274) inhibits EC network formation in the presence of hES-MC. hES-MC produce and release HGF while human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) do not. When HUVEC are cultured alone the networks collapse, but in the presence of recombinant human HGF or conditioned media from human HGF-transduced cells significantly more networks persist. In addition, HUVEC transduced to constitutively express human HGF also form stable networks by autocrine mechanisms. By enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, the coculture media were enriched in both angiopoietin-1 (Ang1) and angiopoietin-2 (Ang2), but at significantly different levels (Ang1=159±15 pg/mL vs. Ang2=30,867±2685 pg/mL) contributed by hES-MC and HUVEC, respectively. Although the coculture cells formed stabile network architectures, their morphology suggests the assembly of an immature plexus. When HUVEC and hES-MC were implanted subcutaneously in immune compromised Rag1 mice, hES-MC increased their contact with HUVEC along the axis of the vessel. This data suggests that HUVEC and hES-MC form an immature plexus mediated in part by HGF and angiopoietins that is capable of maturation under the correct environmental conditions (e.g., in vivo). Therefore, hES-MC can function as microvascular MCs and may be a useful cell source for testing EC–MC interactions.
PMCID: PMC3530951  PMID: 22971005
10.  Targeted disruption of the Fgf2 gene does not affect vascular growth in the mouse ischemic hindlimb 
Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)  2002;93(6):10.1152/japplphysiol.00451.2002.
Ischemic revascularization involves extensive structural adaptation of the vasculature, including both angiogenesis and arteriogenesis. Previous studies suggest that fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2 participates in both angiogenesis and arteriogenesis. Despite this, the specific role of endogenous FGF-2 in vascular adaptation during ischemic revascularization is unknown. Therefore, we used femoral artery ligation in Fgf 2+/+ and Fgf 2−/− mice to test the hypothesis that endogenous FGF-2 is an important regulator of angiogenesis and arteriogenesis in the setting of hindlimb ischemia. Femoral ligation increased capillary and arteriole density in the ischemic calf in both Fgf 2+/+ and Fgf 2−/− mice. The level of angiographically visible arteries in the thigh was increased in the ischemic hindlimb in all mice, and no significant differences were observed between Fgf 2+/+ and Fgf 2−/− mice. Additionally, limb perfusion progressively improved to peak values at day 35 postsurgery in both genotypes. Given the equivalent responses observed in Fgf 2+/+ and Fgf 2−/− mice, we demonstrate that endogenous FGF-2 is not required for revascularization in the setting of peripheral ischemia. Vascular adaptation, including both angiogenesis and arteriogenesis, was not affected by the absence of FGF-2 in this model.
PMCID: PMC3872060  PMID: 12391121
revascularization; angiogenesis; basic fibroblast growth factor; arteriogenesis; collateralization
11.  Chronic Hindlimb Ischemia Impairs Functional Vasodilation and Vascular Reactivity in Mouse Feed Arteries 
Vasodilation of lower leg arterioles is impaired in animal models of chronic peripheral ischemia. In addition to arterioles, feed arteries are a critical component of the vascular resistance network, accounting for as much as 50% of the pressure drop across the arterial circulation. Despite the critical importance of feed arteries in blood flow control, the impact of ischemia on feed artery vascular reactivity is unknown. At 14 days following unilateral resection of the femoral–saphenous artery–vein pair, functional vasodilation of the profunda femoris artery was severely impaired, 11 ± 9 versus 152 ± 22%. Although endothelial and smooth muscle-dependent vasodilation were both impaired in ischemic arteries compared to control arteries (Ach: 40 ± 14 versus 81 ± 11%, SNP: 43 ± 12 versus and 85 ± 11%), the responses to acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside were similar, implicating impaired smooth muscle-dependent vasodilation. Conversely, vasoconstriction responses to norepinephrine were not different between ischemic and control arteries, −68 ± 3 versus −66 ± 3%, indicating that smooth muscle cells were functional following the ischemic insult. Finally, maximal dilation responses to acetylcholine, ex vivo, were significantly impaired in the ischemic artery compared to control, 71 ± 9 versus 97 ± 2%, despite a similar generation of myogenic tone to the same intravascular pressure (80 mmHg). These data indicate that ischemia impairs feed artery vasodilation by impairing the responsiveness of the vascular wall to vasodilating stimuli. Future studies to examine the mechanistic basis for the impact of ischemia on vascular reactivity or treatment strategies to improve vascular reactivity following ischemia could provide the foundation for an alternative therapeutic paradigm for peripheral arterial occlusive disease.
PMCID: PMC3230861  PMID: 22164145
vasodilation; reactivity; chronic ischemia; hindlimb; mouse
12.  Fibroblast growth factor 2 control of vascular tone 
Nature medicine  1998;4(2):201-207.
Vascular tone control is essential in blood pressure regulation, shock, ischemia-reperfusion, inflammation, vessel injury/repair, wound healing, temperature regulation, digestion, exercise physiology, and metabolism. Here we show that a well-known growth factor, FGF2, long thought to be involved in many developmental and homeostatic processes, including growth of the tissue layers of vessel walls, functions in vascular tone control. Fgf2 knockout mice are morphologically normal and display decreased vascular smooth muscle contractility, low blood pressure and thrombocytosis. Following intra-arterial mechanical injury, FGF2-deficient vessels undergo a normal hyperplastic response. These results force us to reconsider the function of FGF2 in vascular development and homeostasis in terms of vascular tone control.
PMCID: PMC3850292  PMID: 9461194
13.  Encapsulation of Adipose Stromal Vascular Fraction Cells in Alginate Hydrogel Spheroids Using a Direct-Write Three-Dimensional Printing System 
BioResearch Open Access  2013;2(6):448-454.
The study of tissue function in vitro has been aided by the development of three-dimensional culture systems that more accurately duplicate the complex cell components of tissues and organs. Bioprinting of cells provides a rapid tissue fabrication technique that can be used to evaluate normal and pathologic conditions in vitro as well as to construct complex three-dimensional tissue structures for implantation in regenerative medicine therapies. Studies were performed using a direct write three-dimensional bioprinting system to fabricate adipose-derived stromal vascular fraction cell spheroids. Human fat–derived stromal vascular fraction cells were mixed in 1.5% (w/v) alginate solutions, and fabrication conditions were varied to produce an array of spheroids. The spheroids were placed in spinner culture, and spheroid integrity and encapsulated cell viability were assessed for 16 days. Results establish the ability to tightly control adipose SVF spheroids in the range of 800–1500 μm. Fabrication conditions were used to control spheroid size, and the results illustrate the ability to construct spheroids of precise size and shape. The adipose SVF cell population remains viable and the spheroid integrity was maintained for 16 days in suspension culture. The direct-write printing of adipose stromal vascular fraction cell containing spheroids provides a rapid fabrication technology to support in vitro microphysiologic system studies.
PMCID: PMC3869411  PMID: 24380055
cell culture; stem cells; tissue engineering
14.  Engineering fibrin polymers through engagement of alternative polymerization mechanisms 
Biomaterials  2011;33(2):535-544.
Fibrin is an attractive material for regenerative medicine applications. It not only forms a polymer but also contains cryptic matrikines that are released upon its activation/degradation and enhance the regenerative process. Despite this advantageous biology associated with fibrin, commercially available systems (e.g. TISSEEL) display limited regenerative capacity. This limitation is in part due to formulations that are optimized for tissue sealant applications and result in dense fibrous networks that limit cell infiltration. Recent evidence suggests that polymerization knob ‘B’ engagement of polymerization hole ‘b’ activates an alternative polymerization mechanism in fibrin, which may result in altered single fiber mechanical properties. We hypothesized that augmenting fibrin polymerization through the addition of PEGylated knob peptides with specificity to hole ‘b’ (AHRPYAAC-PEG) would result in distinct fibrin polymer architectures with grossly different physical properties. Polymerization dynamics, polymer architecture, diffusivity, viscoelasticity, and degradation dynamics were analyzed. Results indicate that specific engagement of hole ‘b’ with PEGylated knob ‘B’ conjugates during polymerization significantly enhances the porosity of and subsequent diffusivity through fibrin polymers. Paradoxically, these polymers also display increased viscoelastic properties and decreased susceptibility to degradation. As a result, fibrin polymer strength was significantly augmented without any adverse effects on angiogenesis within the modified polymers.
PMCID: PMC3350801  PMID: 22018389
Fibrin; Angiogenesis; Mechanical properties; Biodegradation
15.  Structural Remodeling of the Mouse Gracilis Artery: Coordinated Changes in Diameter and Medial Area Maintain Circumferential Stress 
Vascular networks respond to chronic alterations in blood supply by structural remodeling. Previously, we showed that blood flow changes in the mouse gracilis artery lead to transient diameter increases, which can generate large increases in circumferential wall stress. Here, we examine the associated changes in the medial area of the arterial wall and the effects on circumferential wall stress.
To induce blood flow changes, one of the two feeding vessels to the gracilis artery was surgically removed. At 7 to 56 days after blood flow interruption, the vasculature was perfused with India ink for morphological measurements, and processed for immuno-cytochemistry to mark the medial cross-section area. Theoretical simulations of hemodynamics were used to analyze the data.
During adaptive increases in vessel diameter, increases in medial area were observed, most strongly in the middle region of the artery. Simulations showed that this increase in medial area limits the increase in estimated circumferential stress during vascular adaptation to less than 50%, in contrast to an increase of up to 250% if the medial area had remained unchanged.
During vascular adaptation, increases in circumferential stress are limited by growth of the media coordinated with diameter changes.
PMCID: PMC3579540  PMID: 22587333
vascular adaptation; blood flow; ischemia; smooth muscle cells; endothelial cells
16.  Angiogenesis in a Microvascular Construct for Transplantation Depends on the Method of Chamber Circulation 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2009;16(3):795-805.
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.
PMCID: PMC2862615  PMID: 19778185
17.  Microvascular Mural Cell Functionality of Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Mesenchymal Cells 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2011;17(11-12):1537-1548.
Microvascular mural or perivascular cells are required for the stabilization and maturation of the remodeling vasculature. However, much less is known about their biology and function compared to large vessel smooth muscle cells. We have developed lines of multipotent mesenchymal cells from human embryonic stem cells (hES-MC); we hypothesize that these can function as perivascular mural cells. Here we show that the derived cells do not form teratomas in SCID mice and independently derived lines show similar patterns of gene expression by microarray analysis. When exposed to platelet-derived growth factor-BB, the platelet-derived growth factor receptor β is activated and hES-MC migrate in response to a gradient. We also show that in a serum-free medium, transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) induces robust expression of multiple contractile proteins (α smooth muscle actin, smooth muscle myosin heavy chain, smooth muscle 22α, and calponin). TGFβ1 signaling is mediated through the TGFβR1/Alk5 pathway as demonstrated by inhibition of α smooth muscle actin expression by treatment of the Alk5-specific inhibitor SB525334 and stable retroviral expression of the Alk5 dominant negative (K232R). Coculture of human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) with hES-MC maintains network integrity compared to HUVEC alone in three-dimensional collagen I-fibronectin by paracrine signaling. Using high-resolution laser confocal microscopy, we show that hES-MC also make direct contact with HUVEC. This demonstrates that hESC-derived mesenchymal cells possess the molecular machinery expected in a perivascular progenitor cells and can play a functional role in stabilizing EC networks in in vitro three-dimensional culture.
PMCID: PMC3098949  PMID: 21284534
18.  CD47 Knockout Mice Exhibit Improved Recovery from Spinal Cord Injury 
Neurobiology of disease  2010;42(1):21-34.
Recent data have implicated thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) signaling in the acute neuropathological events that occur in microvascular endothelial cells (ECs) following spinal cord injury (SCI) (Benton et al., 2008b). We hypothesized that deletion of TSP-1 or its receptor CD47 would reduce these pathological events following SCI. CD47 is expressed in a variety of tissues, including vascular ECs and neutrophils. CD47 binds to TSP-1 and inhibits angiogenesis. CD47 also binds to the signal regulatory protein (SIRP)α and facilitates neutrophil diapedesis across ECs to sites of injury. After contusive SCI, TSP-1−/− mice did not show functional improvement compared to wildtype (WT) mice. CD47−/− mice, however, exhibited functional locomotor improvements and greater white matter sparing. Whereas targeted deletion of either CD47 or TSP-1 improved acute epicenter vascularity in contused mice, only CD47 deletion reduced neutrophil diapedesis and increased microvascular perfusion. An ex vivo model of the CNS microvasculature revealed that CD47−/−-derived microvessels (MVs) prominently exhibit adherent WT or CD47−/− neutrophils on the endothelial lumen, whereas WT-derived MVs do not. This implicates a defect in diapedesis mediated by the loss of CD47 expression on ECs. In vitro transmigration assays confirmed the role of SIRPα in neutrophil diapedesis through EC monolayers. We conclude that CD47 deletion modestly, but significantly, improves functional recovery from SCI via an increase in vascular patency and a reduction of SIRPα-mediated neutrophil diapedesis, rather than the abrogation of TSP-1-mediated anti-angiogenic signaling.
PMCID: PMC3039087  PMID: 21168495
CD47; thrombospondin-1; spinal cord injury; microvasculature; angiogenesis; inflammation; neutrophils
19.  Encapsulation of ePTFE in prevascularized collagen leads to peri-implant vascularization with reduced inflammation§ 
During the typical healing response to an implanted biomaterial, vascular-rich granulation tissue forms around the implant and later resolves into a relatively avascular, fibrous capsule. We have previously shown that a microvascular construct (MVC) consisting of isolated microvessel fragments suspended in a collagen I gel forms a persistent microcirculation in lieu of avascular scar when implanted. The current study evaluated the potential for microvascular constructs to maintain a vascularized tissue environment around an implanted biomaterial. An analysis of the peri-implant tissue around bare expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE), ePTFE embedded within a microvascular construct, or ePTFE embedded within collagen alone revealed that the presence of the MVC, but not collagen alone, promoted vascular densities comparable to that of the granulation tissue formed around bare ePTFE. The vessels within the microvascular construct surrounding the ePTFE were perfusion competent, as determined by India ink perfusion casting, and extended into the interstices of the polymer. In contrast to bare ePTFE, the presence of the MVC or collagen alone significantly reduced the number of activated macrophages in association with ePTFE. Similar results were observed for ePTFE modified to increase cellularity and prevent the formation of an avascular scar. The microvascular construct may prove effective in forming vascularized tissue environments and limiting the number of activated macrophages around implanted polymers thereby leading to effective implant incorporation.
PMCID: PMC2958221  PMID: 20734331
granulation tissue; fibrous capsule; structural adaptation; microvascular networks
20.  Vessel Arterial-Venous Plasticity in Adult Neovascularization 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27332.
Proper arterial and venous specification is a hallmark of functional vascular networks. While arterial-venous identity is genetically pre-determined during embryo development, it is unknown whether an analogous pre-specification occurs in adult neovascularization. Our goal is to determine whether vessel arterial-venous specification in adult neovascularization is pre-determined by the identity of the originating vessels.
Methods and Results
We assessed identity specification during neovascularization by implanting isolated microvessels of arterial identity from both mice and rats and assessing the identity outcomes of the resulting, newly formed vasculature. These microvessels of arterial identity spontaneously formed a stereotypical, perfused microcirculation comprised of the full complement of microvessel types intrinsic to a mature microvasculature. Changes in microvessel identity occurred during sprouting angiogenesis, with neovessels displaying an ambiguous arterial-venous phenotype associated with reduced EphrinB2 phosphorylation.
Our findings indicate that microvessel arterial-venous identity in adult neovascularization is not necessarily pre-determined and that adult microvessels display a considerable level of phenotypic plasticity during neovascularization. In addition, we show that vessels of arterial identity also hold the potential to undergo sprouting angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3221655  PMID: 22132096
21.  Increased hexokinase II expression in the renal glomerulus of mice in response to arsenic 
Epidemiological studies link arsenic exposure to increased risks of cancers of the skin, kidney, lung, bladder and liver. Additionally, a variety of non-cancerous conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease have been associated with chronic ingestion of low levels of arsenic. However, the biological and molecular mechanisms by which arsenic exerts its effects remain elusive. Here we report increased renal hexokinase II (HKII) expression in response to arsenic exposure both in vivo and in vitro. In our model, HKII was up-regulated in the renal glomeruli of mice exposed to low levels of arsenic (10 ppb or 50 ppb) via their drinking water for up to 21 days. Additionally, a similar effect was observed in cultured renal mesangial cells exposed to arsenic. This correlation between our in vivo and in vitro data provides further evidence for a direct link between altered renal HKII expression and arsenic exposure. Thus, our data suggest that alterations in renal HKII expression may be involved in arsenic-induced pathological conditions involving the kidney. More importantly, these results were obtained using environmentally relevant arsenic concentrations.
PMCID: PMC2042004  PMID: 17643460
Arsenic; Arsenite; Hexokinase
22.  Angiogenic potential of microvessel fragments is independent of the tissue of origin and can be influenced by the cellular composition of the implants 
We have demonstrated that microvessel fragments (MFs) isolated from adipose retain angiogenic potential in vitro and form a mature, perfused network when implanted. However, adipose-derived microvessels are rich in pro-vascularizing cells that could uniquely drive neovascularization in adipose-derived MFs implants.
Investigate the ability of microvessel fragments from a different vascular bed to recapitulate adipose-derived microvessel angiogenesis and network formation and analyze adipose-derived vessel plasticity by assessing whether vessel function could be modulated by astrocyte-like cells.
MFs were isolated by limited collagenase digestion from rodent brain or adipose and assembled into 3D collagen gels in the presence or absence of GRPs. The resulting neovasculatures that formed following implantation were assessed by measuring 3-D vascularity and vessel permeability to small and large molecular tracers.
Similar to adipose-derived MFs, brain-derived MFs can sprout and form a perfused neovascular network when implanted. Furthermore, when co-implanted in the constructs, GRPs caused adipose-derived vessels to express the brain endothelial marker glucose transporter-1 and to significantly reduce microvessel permeability.
Neovascularization involving isolated microvessel elements is independent of the tissue origin and degree of vessel specialization. In addition, adipose-derived vessels have the ability to respond to environmental signals and change vessel characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3057771  PMID: 21040121
Angiogenesis; vessel permeability; glial restricted precursors; astrocytes; angiogenesis assay
23.  Establishment of primary cultures of human brain microvascular endothelial cells: a new and simplified method to obtain cells for an in vitro model of the blood-brain barrier 
Nature protocols  2010;5(7):1265-1272.
We describe a method for generating primary cultures of human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMVEC). HBMVEC are derived from microvessels isolated from temporal tissue removed during operative treatment of epilepsy. The tissue is mechanically fragmented and size-filtered using polyester meshes. The resulting microvessel fragments are placed onto type-I collagen-coated flasks to allow HBMVEC to migrate and proliferate. The overall process takes under 3 h and does not require specialized equipment or enzymatic processes. HBMVEC are typically cultured for approximately 1 month until confluence. Cultures are highly pure (~97% endothelial cells; ~3% pericytes), reproducible, and display characteristic brain endothelial markers (von Willebrand factor, glucose transporter-1), robust expression of tight and adherens junction proteins, caveolin-1, and efflux protein P-glycoprotein. Monolayers of HBMVEC display characteristic high transendothelial electric resistance and have proven useful in multiple functional studies for in-vitro modeling of the human blood-brain barrier.
PMCID: PMC3109429  PMID: 20595955
24.  Implanted Microvessels Progress through Distinct Neovascularization Phenotypes 
Microvascular research  2009;79(1):10.
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.
PMCID: PMC2813398  PMID: 19833141
neovascularization; neovessel; sprouting; angiogenesis; microvascular remodeling; microcirculation; structural adaptation; gene expression
25.  Effect of Mechanical Boundary Conditions on Orientation of Angiogenic Microvessels 
Cardiovascular research  2008;78(2):324-332.
Mechanical forces are important regulators of cell and tissue phenotype. We hypothesized that mechanical loading and boundary conditions would influence neovessel activity during angiogenesis.
Using an in vitro model of angiogenesis sprouting and a mechanical loading system, we evaluated the effects of boundary conditions and applied loading. The model consisted of rat microvessel fragments cultured in a 3D collagen gel, previously shown to recapitulate angiogenic sprouting observed in vivo. We examined changes in neovascular growth in response to four different mechanical conditions. Neovessel density, diameter, length and orientation were measured from volumetric confocal images of cultures exposed to no external load (free-floating shape control), intrinsic loads (fixed ends, no stretch), static external load (static stretch) or cyclic external load (cyclic stretch).
Neovessels sprouted and grew by the 3rd day of culture and continued to do so during the next 3 days of loading. The numbers of neovessels and branch points were significantly increased in the static stretch group when compared to the free-floating shape control, no stretch or cyclic stretch groups. In all mechanically loaded cultures, neovessel diameter and length distributions were heterogeneous, while they were homogeneous in shape control cultures. Neovessels were significantly more oriented along the direction of mechanical loading than those in the shape controls. Interestingly, collagen fibrils were organized parallel and adjacent to growing neovessels.
Externally applied boundary conditions regulate neovessel sprouting and elongation during angiogenesis, affecting both neovessel growth characteristics and network morphometry. Furthermore, neovessels align parallel to the direction of stress/strain or internally generated traction, and this may be due to collagen fibril alignment induced by the growing neovessels themselves.
PMCID: PMC2840993  PMID: 18310100
boundary conditions; angiogenesis; strain; orientation; morphometry; image analysis

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