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Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2012 Jan 1;4:2269-88.

Life is a pattern: vascular assembly within the embryo.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine III, University of Freiburg, Germany.


The formation of the vascular system is one of the earliest and most important events during organogenesis in the developing embryo because the growing organism needs a transportation system to supply oxygen and nutrients and to remove waste products. Two distinct processes termed vasculogenesis and angiogenesis lead to a complex vasculature covering the entire body. Several cellular mechanisms including migration, proliferation, differentiation and maturation are involved in generating this hierarchical vascular tree. To achieve this aim, a multitude of signaling pathways need to be activated and coordinated in spatio-temporal patterns. Understanding embryonic molecular mechanism in angiogenesis further provides insight for therapeutic approaches in pathological conditions like cancer or ischemic diseases in the adult. In this review, we describe the current understanding of major signaling pathways that are necessary and active during vascular development.

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