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Dev Biol. 2003 Mar 1;255(1):77-98.

Neurovascular congruence results from a shared patterning mechanism that utilizes Semaphorin3A and Neuropilin-1.

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Embryology Lab, MCR1, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, VIC, Australia.


Peripheral nerves and blood vessels have similar patterns in quail forelimb development. Usually, nerves extend adjacent to existing blood vessels, but in a few cases, vessels follow nerves. Nerves have been proposed to follow vascular smooth muscle, endothelium, or their basal laminae. Focusing on the major axial blood vessels and nerves, we found that when nerves grow into forelimbs at E3.5-E5, vascular smooth muscle was not detectable by smooth muscle actin immunoreactivity. Additionally, transmission electron microscopy at E5.5 confirmed that early blood vessels lacked smooth muscle and showed that the endothelial cell layer lacks a basal lamina, and we did not observe physical contact between peripheral nerves and these endothelial cells. To test more generally whether lack of nerves affected blood vessel patterns, forelimb-level neural tube ablations were performed at E2 to produce aneural limbs; these had completely normal vascular patterns up to at least E10. To test more generally whether vascular perturbation affected nerve patterns, VEGF(165), VEGF(121), Ang-1, and soluble Flt-1/Fc proteins singly and in combination were focally introduced via beads implanted into E4.5 forelimbs. These produced significant alterations to the vascular patterns, which included the formation of neo-vessels and the creation of ectopic avascular spaces at E6, but in both under- and overvascularized forelimbs, the peripheral nerve pattern was normal. The spatial distribution of semaphorin3A protein immunoreactivity was consistent with a negative regulation of neural and/or vascular patterning. Semaphorin3A bead implantations into E4.5 forelimbs caused failure of nerves and blood vessels to form and to deviate away from the bead. Conversely, semaphorin3A antibody bead implantation was associated with a local increase in capillary formation. Furthermore, neural tube electroporation at E2 with a construct for the soluble form of neuropilin-1 caused vascular malformations and hemorrhage as well as altered nerve trajectories and peripheral nerve defasciculation at E5-E6. These results suggest that neurovascular congruency does not arise from interdependence between peripheral nerves and blood vessels, but supports the hypothesis that it arises by a shared patterning mechanism that utilizes semaphorin3A.

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