Signaling pathways in vascular development

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2002;18:541-73. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.18.012502.105825. Epub 2002 Apr 2.


The vasculature is one of the most important and complex organs in the mammalian body. The first functional organ to form during embryonic development, the intricately branched network of endothelial and supporting periendothelial cells is essential for the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to and the removal of waste products from the tissues. Serious disruptions in the formation of the vascular network are lethal early in post-implantation development, while the maintenance of vessel integrity and the control of vessel physiology and hemodynamics have important consequences throughout embryonic and adult life. A full understanding of the signaling pathways of vascular development is important not just for understanding normal development but because of the importance of reactivation of angiogenic pathways in disease states. Clinically there is a need to develop therapies to promote new blood vessel formation in situations of severe tissue ischemia, such as coronary heart disease. In addition, there is considerable interest in developing angiogenic inhibitors to block the new vessel growth that solid tumors promote in host tissue to enhance their own growth. Already studies on the signaling pathways of normal vascular development have provided new targets for therapeutic intervention in both situations. Further understanding of the complexities of the pathways should help refine such strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / cytology
  • Blood Vessels / embryology*
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Embryo, Mammalian / embryology*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Growth Substances / genetics
  • Growth Substances / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / drug therapy
  • Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Mammals / embryology*
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / physiopathology
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Growth Substances