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      Cross-talk between blood vessels and neural progenitors in the developing brain

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          The formation of the central nervous system (CNS) involves multiple cellular and molecular interactions between neural progenitor cells (NPCs) and blood vessels to establish extensive and complex neural networks and attract a vascular supply that support their function. In this review, we discuss studies that have performed genetic manipulations of chick, fish and mouse embryos to define the spatiotemporal roles of molecules that mediate the reciprocal regulation of NPCs and blood vessels. These experiments have highlighted core functions of NPC-expressed ligands in initiating vascular growth into and within the neural tube as well as establishing the blood–brain barrier. More recent findings have also revealed indispensable roles of blood vessels in regulating NPC expansion and eventual differentiation, and specific regional differences in the effect of angiocrine signals. Accordingly, NPCs initially stimulate blood vessel growth and maturation to nourish the brain, but blood vessels subsequently also regulate NPC behaviour to promote the formation of a sufficient number and diversity of neural cells. A greater understanding of the molecular cross-talk between NPCs and blood vessels will improve our knowledge of how the vertebrate nervous system forms and likely help in the design of novel therapies aimed at regenerating neurons and neural vasculature following CNS disease or injury.

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          Most cited references 102

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          Astrocyte-endothelial interactions at the blood-brain barrier.

          The blood-brain barrier, which is formed by the endothelial cells that line cerebral microvessels, has an important role in maintaining a precisely regulated microenvironment for reliable neuronal signalling. At present, there is great interest in the association of brain microvessels, astrocytes and neurons to form functional 'neurovascular units', and recent studies have highlighted the importance of brain endothelial cells in this modular organization. Here, we explore specific interactions between the brain endothelium, astrocytes and neurons that may regulate blood-brain barrier function. An understanding of how these interactions are disturbed in pathological conditions could lead to the development of new protective and restorative therapies.
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            VEGF guides angiogenic sprouting utilizing endothelial tip cell filopodia

            Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A) is a major regulator of blood vessel formation and function. It controls several processes in endothelial cells, such as proliferation, survival, and migration, but it is not known how these are coordinately regulated to result in more complex morphogenetic events, such as tubular sprouting, fusion, and network formation. We show here that VEGF-A controls angiogenic sprouting in the early postnatal retina by guiding filopodial extension from specialized endothelial cells situated at the tips of the vascular sprouts. The tip cells respond to VEGF-A only by guided migration; the proliferative response to VEGF-A occurs in the sprout stalks. These two cellular responses are both mediated by agonistic activity of VEGF-A on VEGF receptor 2. Whereas tip cell migration depends on a gradient of VEGF-A, proliferation is regulated by its concentration. Thus, vessel patterning during retinal angiogenesis depends on the balance between two different qualities of the extracellular VEGF-A distribution, which regulate distinct cellular responses in defined populations of endothelial cells.
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              Abnormal blood vessel development and lethality in embryos lacking a single VEGF allele.

              The endothelial cell-specific vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its cellular receptors Flt-1 and Flk-1 have been implicated in the formation of the embryonic vasculature. This is suggested by their colocalized expression during embryogenesis and the impaired vessel formation in Flk-1 and Flt-1 deficient embryos. However, because Flt-1 also binds placental growth factor, a VEGF homologue, the precise role of VEGF was unknown. Here we report that formation of blood vessels was abnormal, but not abolished, in heterozygous VEGF-deficient (VEGF+/-) embryos, generated by aggregation of embryonic stem (ES) cells with tetraploid embryos (T-ES) and even more impaired in homozygous VEGF-deficient (VEGF-/-) T-ES embryos, resulting in death at mid-gestation. Similar phenotypes were observed in F1-VEGF+/- embryos, generated by germline transmission. We believe that this heterozygous lethal phenotype, which differs from the homozygous lethality in VEGF-receptor-deficient embryos, is unprecedented for a targeted autosomal gene inactivation, and is indicative of a tight dose-dependent regulation of embryonic vessel development by VEGF.

                Author and article information

                Neuronal Signal
                Neuronal Signal
                Neuronal Signaling
                Portland Press Ltd.
                March 2018
                30 March 2018
                : 2
                : 1
                UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, 11-43 Bath Street, London EC1V 9EL, U.K.
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Christiana Ruhrberg ( c.ruhrberg@ )
                © 2018 The Author(s).

                This is an open access article published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society and distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).

                Page count
                Pages: 13
                Review Articles
                Developmental Biology
                Cardiovascular System & Vascular Biology
                Stem Cells


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