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FASEB J. 2005 Sep;19(11):1564-6. Epub 2005 Jun 23.

Abnormal maturation of the retinal vasculature in type XVIII collagen/endostatin deficient mice and changes in retinal glial cells due to lack of collagen types XV and XVIII.

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  • 1Collagen Research Unit, Biocenter Oulu and Department of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.


Type XVIII collagen is important in the early phase of retinal vascular development and for the regression of the primary vasculature in the vitreous body after birth. We show here that the retina in Col18a1-/- mice becomes densely vascularized by anomalous anastomoses from the persistent hyaloid vasculature by day 10 after birth. In situ hybridizations revealed normal VEGF mRNA expression, but the phenotype of collagen XVIII deficient mice closely resembled that of mice expressing VEGF120 and VEGF188 isoforms only, suggesting that type XVIII collagen may be involved in VEGF function. Type XVIII collagen was found to be indispensable for angiogenesis in the eye, as also oxygen-induced neovascularization was less intense than normal in the Col18a1-/- mice. We observed a marked increase in the amount of retinal astrocytes in the Col18a1-/- mice. Whereas the retinal vessels of wild-type mice are covered by astrocytes and the regressing, thin hyaloid vessels are devoid of astrocytes, the retinal vessels in the Col18a1-/- mice were similarly covered by astrocytes but not the persistent hyaloid vessels in the vitreous body. Interestingly, double null mice lacking type XVIII collagen and its homologue type XV collagen had the persistent hyaloid vessels covered by astrocytes, including the parts located in the vitreous body. We thus hypothesize that type XV collagen is a regulator of glial cell recruitment around vessels and that type XVIII collagen regulates their proliferation.

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