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VEGF Signaling Regulates the Fate of Obstructed Capillaries in Mouse Cortex

By May 9, 2018No Comments

Cortical capillaries are prone to obstruction, which over time, could have a major impact on brain angioarchitecture and function. The mechanisms that govern the removal of these obstructions and what long-term fate awaits obstructed capillaries, remains a mystery. We estimate that ~0.12% of mouse cortical capillaries are obstructed each day (lasting >20 min), preferentially in superficial layers and lower order branches. Tracking natural or microsphere-induced obstructions revealed that 75-80% of capillaries recanalized within 24 hr. Remarkably, 30% of all obstructed capillaries were pruned by 21 days, including some that had regained flow. Pruning involved regression of endothelial cells, which was not compensated for by sprouting. Using this information, we predicted capillary loss with aging that closely matched experimental estimates. Genetic knockdown or inhibition of VEGF-R2 signaling was a critical factor in promoting capillary recanalization and minimizing subsequent pruning. Our studies reveal the incidence, mechanism and long-term outcome of capillary obstructions which can also explain age-related capillary rarefaction.