Mouse Proepicardium Exhibits a Sprouting Response to Exogenous Proangiogenic Growth Factors in vitro

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Angiogenesis contributes to the generation of the vascular bed but also affects the progression of many diseases, such as tumor growth. Many details of the molecular pathways controlling angiogenesis are still undefined due to the lack of appropriate models. We propose the proepicardial explant as a suitable model for studying certain aspects of angiogenesis. The proepicardium (PE) is a transient embryonic structure that contains a population of undifferentiated endothelial cells (ECs) forming a vascular net continuous with the sinus venosus. In this paper, we show that PE explants give rise to CD31-positive vascular sprouts in the presence of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and 2 isoforms of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), i.e. VEGF-A120 and VEGF-A164. Vascular sprouts exhibit differences in number, length, thickness and the number of branches, depending on the combination of growth factors used. Moreover, the ECs of the sprouts express various levels of mRNA for Notch1 and its ligand Dll4. Additionally, stimulation with bFGF/VEGF-A164 upregulates the expression of Lyve-1 antigen in the ECs in the sprouts. In summary, we present a new model for angiogenesis studies involving mouse PE as a source of ECs. We believe that our model may act as a supplementary assay for angiogenesis studies along with the existing models.

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