CORDIS - EU research results

Role of Angiogenic Factors in Neurodevelopment

Final Report Summary - NEUROVASCULAR LINK (Role of Angiogenic Factors in Neurodevelopment)

Despite their distinct functions, the nervous and vascular systems share many more similarities and common principles than previously anticipated. For example, molecular factors involved in the development of the nervous system are also known to regulate blood vessel formation. Conversely, the key angiogenic factor, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A, termed from hereon VEGF), as well as other members of its family such as VEGF-C and VEGF-D, and their receptors, are expressed in neuronal cells and participate in processes such as neurogenesis, neuronal migration, axon guidance, dendritogenesis and dendrite maintenance. All these new findings bring up the new concept of an existing Neurovascular link controlling vascular and neurodevelopmental processes.

Despite these initial findings, still little is known about the biology of VEGF or of any other angiogenic factors in neurons, the signaling pathways that they activate and their functional role in neurodevelopment. Thus, this proposal aimed to further investigate the role of angiogenic factors and their molecular signaling in neurodevelopment.

We have characterized the role of VEGF in hippocampal neurons during development. Moreover, we have also identified a new role for other angiogenic factors – angiopoetins – in developing neurons of the spinal cord, hippocampus and cerebellum.

The identification of how angiogenic molecules neuronal wiring, will shed new light in the understanding of the molecular control of neuronal development and the possible causes of neurodevelopmental disorders. Our findings may suggest new strategies to treat neurodevelopmental disorders and to promote axon regeneration after injury or disease.