A Novel ex vivo Mouse Mesometrium Culture Model for Investigating Angiogenesis in Microvascular Networks

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Abstract

Background: The development of models that incorporate intact microvascular networks enables the investigation of multicellular dynamics during angiogenesis. Our laboratory introduced the rat mesentery culture model as such a tool, which would be enhanced with mouse tissue. Since mouse mesentery is avascular, an alternative is mouse mesometrium, the connective tissue of uterine horns. The study’s objective was to demonstrate that mouse mesometrium contains microvascular networks that can be cultured to investigate multicellular dynamics during angiogenesis. Methods: Harvested mesometrium tissues from C57Bl/6 female mice were cultured in media with serum for up to 7 days. PECAM, NG2, αSMA, and LYVE-1 labeling identified endothelial cells, pericytes, smooth muscle cells, and lymphatic endothelial cells, respectively. Results: These cells comprised microvascular networks with arterioles, venules, and capillaries. Compared to day 0, capillary sprouts per vascular length were increased by 3 and 5 days in culture (day 0, 0.08 ± 0.01; day 3, 3.19 ± 0.78; day 5, 2.49 ± 0.05 sprouts/mm; p < 0.05). Time-lapse imaging of cultured tissues from FlkEGFP mice showcases the use of the model for lineage studies. The impact is supported by the identification of endothelial cell jumping from one sprout to another. Conclusion: These results introduce a novel culture model for investigating multicellular dynamics during angiogenesis in real-time ex vivo microvascular networks.

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