Newsletter Issue: Nov-Dec 2015

Featured Young Investigator's Recent Study in Microcirculation*

from Volume 22 Issue 8 -  (pages 711-723)

Driving the Hypoxia-Inducible Pathway in Human Pericytes Promotes Vascular Density in an Exosome-Dependent Manner

Featuring: Jamie N. Mayo and Shawn E. Bearden, Idaho State University

New blood vessel growth can promote greater functional recovery after central nervous system (CNS) injury and/or disease. Pericytes are vital to vascular function and are physically positioned to act as intermediates between the neuronal environment and the microvasculature. Pericytes can also participate in the formation of new blood vessels through angiogenesis.  Because of this they have become attractive therapeutic targets to enhance angiogenesis after CNS injury. The molecular switch that activates pericytes to a pro-angiogenic state, however, is poorly understood.

In our recent study (Microcirculation, 22: 711-723) using human CNS cells and an ex vivo model of spinal cord injury, we found that HIF pathway activation is a possible molecular switch that induces pericytes to become pro-angiogenic. Although the mechanisms are still not clear, pericyte promotion of greater endothelial cord formation in collagen matrices and greater vessel density in spinal cord tissue was dependent on exosome signalling (signalling through small vesicles that are released from cells). We are currently working to determine if HIF pathway activation in pericytes can enhance vessel density in vivo. Understanding the mechanisms by which pericytes can become pro-angiogenic could aide in the development of novel therapeutic strategies to promote greater recovery after CNS injury.

Read the abstract.