How the development of blood vessels feeding the peripheral nerves is controlled
Social networks have nothing on the complexity of the networks of blood vessels and nerves that make your body tick. The blood vessels that supply your peripheral nerves – your intra-nervous vascular (INV) system – are essential for nerve function and repair. Researchers now investigate the mechanisms underlying INV development using mice. Fluorescence microscopy of the sciatic nerve in embryonic mice (pictured) revealed that blood vessels start invading this nerve around embryonic day 16. The team also found that a signal molecule involved in nerve and blood vessel development, netrin-1, promoted this process, as demonstrated by genetically interfering with netrin-1 function, which resulted in fewer blood vessels (magenta) supplying the developing nerve (green). This result was replicated when developing mice were injected with antibodies to block the protein that netrin-1 binds, the UNC5B receptor, which is found on blood vessels. Netrin-1 and UNC5B are therefore key players in INV development.
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