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Angiogenesis. 2001;4(2):133-42.

Improved quantification of angiogenesis in the rat aortic ring assay.

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Laboratory of Tumor and Developmental Biology, University of Liège, Tour de Pathologie +3, CHU, Sart-Tilman, B-40000 Liège, Belgium.


In vitro angiogenesis assays are essential for the identification of potential angiogenic agents and screening for pharmacological inhibitors. Among these assays, the rat aortic ring model developed by Nicosia bridges the gap between in vivo and in vitro models. The quantification of angiogenesis on this system must be applicable to characterise vascular networks of various states of complexity. We present here an improved computer-assisted image analysis which allows: (1) the determination of the aortic ring area and its factor shape; (2) the number of microvessels, the total number of branchings, the maximal microvessel length and the microvessel distribution; (3) the total number of isolated fibroblast-like cells and their distribution. We show that this method is suitable to quantify spontaneous angiogenesis as well as to analyse a complex microvascular network induced by various concentrations of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). In addition, by evaluating a new parameter, the fibroblast-like cell distribution, our results show that: (1) during spontaneous angiogenic response, maximal fibroblast-like cell migration delimits microvascular outgrowth; and (2) the known angiogenic inhibitor Batimastat prevents endothelial cell sprouting without completely blocking fibroblast-like cell migration. Finally, this new method of quantification is of great interest to better understand angiogenesis and to test pro- or anti-angiogenic agents.

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