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Dev Biol. 2003 Feb 1;254(1):50-67.

Fluorescent labeling of endothelial cells allows in vivo, continuous characterization of the vascular development of Xenopus laevis.

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Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Appropriate blood supply and vascular development are necessary in development and in cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Here, we report the use of DiI-labeled acetylated low-density lipoprotein (DiI-Ac-LDL) to label endothelial cells and characterize the vasculature of live Xenopus embryos. The atlas we have created provides a detailed map of normal vascular development against which perturbations of normal patterning can be compared. By following the development of the intersomitic vessels in real-time, we show that, while rostrocaudal gradient of maturing intersomitic vessels occurs, it is not absolute. In addition, the comparative study of the ontogeny of nerve bundles from the spinal cord of transgenic Xenopus embryos expressing green fluorescent protein in the nervous system and blood vessels demonstrates a strong anatomical correlation in neurovascular development. These studies provide the basis for understanding how the vascular system forms and assumes its complicated stereotypical pattern in normal development and in disease.

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