Organotypic vasculature: From descriptive heterogeneity to functional pathophysiology

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Science  03 Aug 2017:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal2379

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Blood vessels form one of the body’s largest surfaces serving as critical interface between the circulation and the different organ environments. They thereby exert gatekeeper functions on tissue homeostasis and adaptation to pathologic challenge. Vascular control of the tissue microenvironment is indispensable in development, hemostasis, inflammation, and metabolism as well as cancer and metastasis. This multitude of vascular functions is mediated by organ-specifically differentiated endothelial cells (EC), whose cellular and molecular heterogeneity has long been recognized. Yet, distinct organotypic functional attributes as well as the molecular mechanisms controlling EC differentiation and vascular bed-specific functions have only emerged in recent years. Considering the involvement of vascular dysfunction in numerous chronic and life-threatening diseases, the better molecular understanding of organotypic vasculatures may pave the way toward novel angiotargeted treatments to cure hitherto intractable diseases. This review summarizes recent progress in the understanding of organotypic vascular differentiation and function.

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