The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 55: 447 - 453 (2011)

Vol 55, Issue 4-5

Special Issue: Angiogenesis in Development & Cancer

Paracrine regulation of angiogenesis by different cell types in the aorta ring model

Review | Published: 19 July 2011

Roberto F. Nicosia*,1,2, Penelope Zorzi2, Giovanni Ligresti2, Ann Morishita2 and Alfred C. Aplin2

1Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Services, Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA and 2Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA


The development of blood vessels during angiogenesis is the result of paracrine interactions between tube-forming endothelial cells and angiogenic factor-producing nonendothelial cells. This process can be reproduced and studied under chemically defined culture conditions by culturing vascular explants in three-dimensional gels of extracellular matrix. Rings of rat or mouse aorta cultured in collagen, fibrin or basement membrane gels produce angiogenic outgrowths composed of a mixed population of endothelial cells and nonendothelial cells. Aortic angiogenesis is regulated by endogenous angiogenic factors, inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, extracellular matrix molecules, and proteolytic enzymes produced by cells of the vessel wall in response to the injury of the dissection procedure. In this paper, we review how macrophages, mural cells and fibroblasts regulate different stages of the angiogenic process, from the formation of immature endothelial sprouts to the reabsorption of the neovessels. We also describe how aortic cultures can be used to study interactions between angiogenic outgrowths and nonvascular cell types such as bone marrow macrophages, platelets or cancer cells. Morphologic, genetic and functional studies of this model have provided invaluable information on how vessels form, mature, interact with nonvascular cell types, and are eventually reabsorbed. Further analysis of the paracrine cross-talk between aortic endothelial and nonendothelial cells is likely to provide new insights into the angiogenic process and its key mechanisms.


VEGF, bFGF, PDGF, angiopoietin, MMP, TIMP, microarray

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