The skeleton and the sinusoidal vasculature form a functional unit with great relevance in health, regeneration, and disease. Currently, fundamental aspects of sinusoidal vessel growth, specialization, arteriovenous organization and the consequences for tissue perfusion, or the changes occurring during ageing remain unknown. Our preliminary data indicate that key principles of bone vascularization and the role of molecular regulators are highly distinct from other organs. I therefore propose to use powerful combination of mouse genetics, fate mapping, transcriptional profiling, computational biology, confocal and two-photon microscopy, micro-CT and PET imaging, biochemistry and cell biology to characterize the growth, differentiation, dynamics, and ageing of the bone vasculature. In addition to established angiogenic pathways, the role of highly promising novel candidate regulators will be investigated in endothelial cells and perivascular osteoprogenitors with sophisticated inducible and cell type-specific genetic methods in the mouse. Complementing these powerful in vivo approaches, 3D co-cultures generated by cell printing technologies will provide insight into the communication between different cell types. The dynamics of sinusoidal vessel growth and regeneration will be monitored by two-photon imaging in the skull. Finally, I will explore the architectural, cellular and molecular changes and the role of capillary endothelial subpopulations in the sinusoidal vasculature of ageing and osteoporotic mice.
Technological advancements, such as new transgenic strains, mutant models or cell printing approaches, are important aspects of this proposal. AngioBone will provide a first conceptual framework for normal and deregulated function of the bone sinusoidal vasculature. It will also break new ground by analyzing the role of blood vessels in ageing and identifying novel strategies for tissue engineering and, potentially, the prevention/treatment of osteoporosis.
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