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Quantitative Microscopy of Angiogenesis in Zebrafish EmbryosDownload
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February 06, 2019
Authors: Sarah Beckman and Peter Banks, BioTek Instruments, Inc., Winooski, VT, USA
Angiogenesis is the process by which new blood vessels are formed from the pre-existing vasculature. This is a complex and controlled process, and all aspects of it, including endothelial cell migration, proliferation, and activation are under tight regulation of factors that either promote or inhibit angiogenesis. Angiogenesis plays a crucial role in many conditions including embryonic development, tissue repair, and disease. While inadequate vessel growth leads to tissue ischemia, excessive vascular growth promotes cancer and inflammatory disorders. Enhanced angiogenesis as a reparative therapy is a major goal of regenerative medicine, especially as pertaining to ischemic diseases such as myocardial infarction. On the other hand, inhibition of angiogenesis is an important area of interest for the field of cancer biology. Previous research has shown that tumor angiogenesis is required for the growth and metastasis of solid tumors. As such, inhibition of vessel formation is a potential target for cancer therapy.
Many of the pathways involved in embryonic development are implicated in adult human disease. Zebrafish vascular development is an excellent example of this. Zebrafish have a closed circulatory system, and the form of the developing vasculature, the processes used to assemble vessels, and the molecular mechanisms underlying vessel formation are very similar to those in humans. Furthermore, the zebrafish offers many unique advantages for studying vascular development in vivo. Zebrafish embryos develop externally, making them easily accessible to manipulation. Also, their optical transparency facilitates high-resolution imaging of blood vessels in the developing embryo.