A Molecular Switch For Blood Vessel Growth

Posted on 19 January 2016

Credit: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Credit: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Removal of a key transcription factor allows unfettered blood vessel growth

Your blood vessels and circulatory system are dynamic, fluid systems in constant evolution as they attempt to feed your tissue with key nutrients and oxygen. 

Lining the inside of these vessels are endothelial cells. In response to growth cues from surrounding tissue, can trigger new blood vessel growth. 

In order to fuel this expansion, endothelial cells must undergo significant metabolic changes that help provide enough fuel and building blocks to work with. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute have now uncovered a key molecular switch controlling this process – the transcription factor FOXO1. 

Credit: Wong/Searson Lab, John Hopkins University

Credit: Wong/Searson Lab, John Hopkins University

“When we inactivated FOXO1 in mice in the lab, we observed uncontrolled growth of vascular cells. Conversely, activating the molecule slowed blood vessel growth” 

The research uncovered that FOXO1 usually slows endothelial cell metabolism and division, preventing excessive, and unwanted, division. This is perhaps because of their constant exposure to freshly oxygenated blood. When levels of the factor are altered however, it allows endothelial cells to rev up their metabolism and begin expanding the vessel network. FOXO1 is an extremely conserved protein found in a wide range of species. 

“The growth of tumours could potentially be brought under control by the targeted pharmacological activation of FOXO1. FOXO1 may also be implicated in metabolic diseases such as diabetes. The observed disturbance of vascular growth could be due to impaired regulation of FOXO1 in endothelial cells”

A greater understanding of the role factors like FOXO1 play in controlling our blood vessel networks could open up new treatments for related diseases.

Read more at MedicalXpress

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