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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2011 Aug 1;3(8):a005090. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a005090.


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Department of Pathology and Center for Vascular Biology Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Extracellular matrix (ECM) is essential for all stages of angiogenesis. In the adult, angiogenesis begins with endothelial cell (EC) activation, degradation of vascular basement membrane, and vascular sprouting within interstitial matrix. During this sprouting phase, ECM binding to integrins provides critical signaling support for EC proliferation, survival, and migration. ECM also signals the EC cytoskeleton to initiate blood vessel morphogenesis. Dynamic remodeling of ECM, particularly by membrane-type matrix metalloproteases (MT-MMPs), coordinates formation of vascular tubes with lumens and provides guidance tunnels for pericytes that assist ECs in the assembly of vascular basement membrane. ECM also provides a binding scaffold for a variety of cytokines that exert essential signaling functions during angiogenesis. In the embryo, ECM is equally critical for angiogenesis and vessel stabilization, although there are likely important distinctions from the adult because of differences in composition and abundance of specific ECM components.

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