Homeostasis of multicellular tissues relies on accurate match of vascular supply and drain to the needs of the tissue. Multiple pathways are involved in detection, signalling and execution of the required steps involved in organization of blood and lymphatic vessels during embryonic development. Similar mechanisms are utilized for overcoming changes in tissue requirements also in adult tissues and in pathological processes. The goal of this work is to reveal the dynamic forces that shape the blood vessels during angiogenesis. In particular, we would like to explore the impact of interstitial convective flow in dynamic imprinting of growth factor signalling, thereby regulating vascular patterning. Angiogenesis is explored here as an example for a possible general role for interstitial convection of growth factors in determination of the fine spatial patterning of tissue morphogenesis in vertebrates. To achieve this goal, we will develop multi-modality tools for imaging the regulation of vascular patterning. In vivo imaging will then be utilized for mapping vascular patterning in pathological and physiological angiogenesis including tumours, wound repair, the preovulatory ovarian follicle and foetal implantation sites. Whole body optical, CT, ultrasound and MRI will be applied for non-invasive imaging of deep organs. Microscopic morphometric and molecular information will be derived from the macroscopic imaging data, using selective molecular imaging approaches and functional imaging tools with specific pharmacological models that will be developed to account for interstitial convective flow. Intravital two photon microscopy and fluorescence endoscopy will be used for high resolution evaluation of vascular patterning. The evaluation of novel mechanisms for spatial regulation of intercellular growth factor signalling, will allow us to define new potential targets for intervention, and to develop new tools for preclinical and clinical imaging of angiogenesis.
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