Vascular development in the embryo requires coordinated signaling through several endothelial cell-specific receptors; however, it is not known whether this is also required later during retinal vascular development or as part of retinal neovascularization in adults. The Tie2 receptor has been implicated in stabilization and maturation of vessels through action of an agonist ligand, angiopoietin 1 (Ang1) and an antagonistic ligand, Ang2. In this study, we have demonstrated that ang2 mRNA levels are increased in the retina during development of the deep retinal capillaries by angiogenesis and during pathologic angiogenesis in a model of ischemic retinopathy. Mice with hemizygous disruption of the ang2 gene by insertion of a promoterless beta-galactosidase (beta gal) gene behind the ang2 promoter, show constitutive beta gal staining primarily in cells along the outer border of the inner nuclear layer identified as horizontal cells by colocalization of calbindin. During development of the deep capillary bed or retinal neovascularization, other cells in the inner nuclear layer and ganglion cell layer, in regions of neovascularization, stain for beta gal. Thus, there is temporal and spatial correlation of Ang2 expression with developmental and pathologic angiogenesis in the retina, suggesting that it may play a role.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.