Tortuous Microvessels Contribute to Wound Healing via Sprouting Angiogenesis

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Wound healing is accompanied by neoangiogenesis, and new vessels are thought to originate primarily from the microcirculation; however, how these vessels form and resolve during wound healing is poorly understood. Here, we investigated properties of the smallest capillaries during wound healing to determine their spatial organization and the kinetics of formation and resolution.

Approach and Results—

We used intravital imaging and high-resolution microscopy to identify a new type of vessel in wounds, called tortuous microvessels. Longitudinal studies showed that tortuous microvessels increased in frequency after injury, normalized as the wound healed, and were closely associated with the wound site. Tortuous microvessels had aberrant cell shapes, increased permeability, and distinct interactions with circulating microspheres, suggesting altered flow dynamics. Moreover, tortuous microvessels disproportionately contributed to wound angiogenesis by sprouting exuberantly and significantly more frequently than nearby normal capillaries.


A new type of transient wound vessel, tortuous microvessels, sprout dynamically and disproportionately contribute to wound-healing neoangiogenesis, likely as a result of altered properties downstream of flow disturbances. These new findings suggest entry points for therapeutic intervention.

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