Blood vessels form one of the body's largest surfaces, serving as a critical interface between the circulation and the different organ environments. They thereby exert gatekeeper functions on tissue homeostasis and adaptation to pathologic challenge. Vascular control of the tissue microenvironment is indispensable in development, hemostasis, inflammation, and metabolism, as well as in cancer and metastasis. This multitude of vascular functions is mediated by organ-specifically differentiated endothelial cells (ECs), whose cellular and molecular heterogeneity has long been recognized. Yet distinct organotypic functional attributes and the molecular mechanisms controlling EC differentiation and vascular bed-specific functions have only become known in recent years. Considering the involvement of vascular dysfunction in numerous chronic and life-threatening diseases, a better molecular understanding of organotypic vasculatures may pave the way toward novel angiotargeted treatments to cure hitherto intractable diseases. This Review summarizes recent progress in the understanding of organotypic vascular differentiation and function.
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