bioRxiv. 2021;[preprint] doi:10.1101/2021.07.23.453496
Nascent vascular networks adapt to the increasing metabolic demands of growing tissues by expanding via angiogenesis. As vascular networks expand, blood vessels remodel, progressively refining vascular connectivity to generate a more haemodynamically efficient network. This process is driven by interplay between endothelial cell (EC) signalling and blood flow. While much is known about angiogenesis, considerably less is understood of the mechanisms underlying vessel remodelling by blood flow. Here we employ the zebrafish sub-intestinal venous plexus (SIVP) to characterise the mechanisms underlying blood flow-dependent remodelling. Using live imaging to track ECs we show that blood flow controls SIVP remodelling by coordinating collective migration of ECs within the developing plexus. Blood flow opposes continuous ventral EC migration within the SIVP and is required for regression of angiogenic sprouts to support plexus growth. Sprout regression occurs by coordinated polarisation and migration of ECs from non-perfused leading sprouts, which migrate in opposition to blood flow and incorporate into the SIV. Sprout regression is compatible with low blood flow and is dependent upon vegfr3/flt4 function under these conditions. Blood flow limits expansive venous remodelling promoted by vegfr3/flt4. Collectively, these studies reveal how blood flow sculpts a developing vascular plexus by coordinating EC migration and balancing vascular remodelling via vegfr3/flt4.
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