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Clin Chem. 2003 Jan;49(1):32-40.

Angiogenesis assays: a critical overview.

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  • 1Laboratory of Developmental Biology, University of Wisconsin, 1117 West Johnson St., Madison, WI 53706, USA.



Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, is an integral part of both normal developmental processes and numerous pathologies, ranging from tumor growth and metastasis to inflammation and ocular disease. Angiogenesis assays are used to test efficacy of both pro- and antiangiogenic agents.


Most studies of angiogenesis inducers and inhibitors rely on various models, both in vitro and in vivo, as indicators of efficacy. In this report we describe the principal methods now in use: the in vivo Matrigel plug and corneal neovascularization assays, the in vivo/in vitro chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay, and the in vitro cellular (proliferation, migration, tube formation) and organotypic (aortic ring) assays. We include description of two new methods, the chick aortic arch and the Matrigel sponge assays.


In vitro tests are valuable, can be carried out expeditiously, and lend themselves to quantification, but must be interpreted with extreme caution. In vitro tests are best viewed as providing initial information, subject to confirmation by in vivo assays. Multiple tests should be used to obtain maximum benefit from in vitro tests. In vivo tests are more difficult and time-consuming to perform, thereby limiting the number of tests that can run at any one time. Quantification is generally more difficult as well. However, in vivo assays are essential because of the complex nature of vascular responses to test reagents, responses that no in vitro model can fully achieve.

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