In a silently shifting network blood vessels grow and reorganise throughout our lives. Not only do they supply blood to our vital organs they appear to provide a roadmap for overlying nerves. Here, blood vessels are seen end-on (green/yellow) in a cross section of bladder wall from a mouse. The animals were supplied with VEGF -a protein known to activate growth of new blood vessels. By highlighting proliferating cells (dyed red), as expected, new vessels can be seen budding from old (arrowed) – a process called angiogenesis. But the researchers also found that inflamed areas (blue lined) with a lot of nerves, had also grown. It seems that VEGF is responsible for the redistribution of nerve cells that happens as a result of bladder inflammation. By probing the complex connections between blood vessels and nerves, scientists are moving towards dulling the discomfort of painful bladder conditions.
Written by Hayley Birch
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