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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2008 Sep;28(9):1543-51. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2008.39. Epub 2008 May 7.

Overexpression of netrin-1 induces neovascularization in the adult mouse brain.

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Center for Cerebrovascular Research, Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California, San Francisco, California 94110, USA.


Netrin-1 is a critical molecule for axonal pathfinding during embryo development, and because of its structural homology to the endothelial mitogens, it may share its effects on vascular network formation. Using an adeno-associated viral netrin-1 vector (AAV-NT-1) gene transfer, we demonstrated that netrin-1 was able to stimulate the proliferation and migration of human cerebral endothelial cells (HCECs) and human aortic smooth muscle cells (HASMCs) compared with the control (P<0.05), and could also promote HCEC tube formation on matrigel (P<0.05) in vitro. Moreover, netrin-1 hyperstimulation could promote focal neovascularization (P<0.05) in the adult brain in vivo. Unlike VEGF-induced microvessel increase, netrin-1-induced newly formed vessels showed an artery-like phenotype, with an intact endothelial cell monolayer surrounded by multiple cell layers, including smooth muscle cells and an astrocyte-connected outer layer. Our findings suggest that netrin-1 plays an important role in promoting blood vessel formation in the adult rodent central nervous system, and could have broad implication in cerebrovascular development and remodeling.

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