Hypoxia-driven angiogenesis: role of tip cells and extracellular matrix scaffolding

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Purpose of reviewAngiogenesis is a highly coordinated tissue remodeling process leading to blood vessel formation. Hypoxia triggers angiogenesis via induction of expression of growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF instructs endothelial cells to form tip cells, which lead outgrowing capillary sprouts, whereas Notch signaling inhibits sprout formation. Basement membrane deposition and mechanical cues from the extracellular matrix (ECM) induced by hypoxia may participate to coordinated vessel sprouting in conjunction with the VEGF and Notch signaling pathways.Recent findingsHypoxia regulates ECM composition, deposition, posttranslational modifications and rearrangement. In particular, hypoxia-driven vascular remodeling is dynamically regulated through modulation of ECM-modifying enzyme activities that eventually affect both matricellular proteins and growth factor availability.SummaryBetter understanding of the complex interplay between endothelial cells and soluble growth factors and mechanical factors from the ECM will certainly have significant implications for understanding the regulation of developmental and pathological angiogenesis driven by hypoxia.

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