Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Developing Leaks

Growth factors identified that are vital for 'fenestrated' blood vessel development

20 February 2021

Developing Leaks

Leaky plumbing spells disaster for your house. But leaky blood vessels in your brain can actually be a good thing. Fenestrated capillaries in your brain are small blood vessels that allow certain large molecules to pass through to support your brain’s immune system and maintain a balance of hormones and fluids. Researchers now investigate the molecular mechanisms behind the formation of these vessels using zebrafish. Vegf is a protein already known to promote blood vessel development. The team created mutants lacking different types — Vegfab, Vegfc and Vegfd — and then used fluorescent microscopy to image the fenestrated blood vessels (pictured, green). Lacking any one Vegf had little effect compared to normal zebrafish (left). However, lacking combinations of Vegfs caused clear defects specifically in fenestrated vessels (middle and right), while other vessels developed normally. Multiple Vegfs therefore coordinate their efforts to ensure proper perforation.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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