Scientists Find Key to Regenerating Blood Vessels

Source: Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Summary: In a new study researchers have identified a signaling pathway that is required for the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing blood vessels.

Ischemia is where the tissues are restricted with blood supply resulting in a shortage of oxygen and glucose required for cell metabolism. Ischemic tissues are generally are found in atherosclerosis and peripheral vascular disease. Previous studies to treat ischemia have focused on delivering vascular endothelial growth factor -VEGF (one of the angiogenic growth factor) to ischemic sites. But these studies have failed to offer significant benefit to patients. In a new study, researchers from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have identified a signaling pathway that is required for the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing blood vessels (angiogenesis). The research findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

The growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing blood vessels

The laboratory of Masanobu Komatsu, Ph.D., studies the regulation of blood vessel growth and remodeling to aid the treatment of cancer and heart disease Credit: SBP

The basis for angiogenesis is the formation of a hallow structure, a pipe-like opening called as endothelial lumen which allows oxygenated blood and nutrients to travel through the body. In this study, the researchers showed that the formation of fully functional blood vessels requires activation of protein kinase Akt by a protein called R-Ras, and this process is necessary for the formation of lumen of a blood vessel and found that VEGF alone cannot help in the formation of such a vessel structure. The research team proposed that VEGF and R-Ras activation of Akt signaling are complementary with each other and necessary to generate a functional blood vessel to repair the ischemic tissue.

Assoc. Prof. Masanobu Komatsu said, “The findings are important because they shed new light on the biological process needed to increase blood flow in ischemic tissues.”

Fangfei Li, a postdoctoral associate said, “Generating new blood vessels is similar to the way trees grow; sprouts develop from existing vessels and then branch out further and further to restore vascularity.”

More Information: Fangfei Li et al, “R-Ras-Akt axis induces endothelial lumenogenesis and regulates the patency of regenerating vasculature”, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01865-x

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