BACKGROUND: During angiogenesis in the developing central nervous system (CNS), endothelial cells (EC) detach from blood vessels growing on the brain surface, and migrate into the expanding brain parenchyma. Brain angiogenesis is regulated by growth factors and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins secreted by cells of the developing CNS. In addition, recent evidence suggests that EC play an important role in establishing the neural stem cell (NSC) niche. Therefore, two-way communication between EC and neural cells is of fundamental importance in the developing CNS. To study the interactions between brain EC and neural cells of the developing CNS, a novel three-dimensional (3-D) murine co-culture system was developed. Fluorescent-labelled brain EC were seeded onto neurospheres; floating cellular aggregates that contain NSC/neural precursor cells (NPC) and smaller numbers of differentiated cells. Using this system, brain EC attachment, survival and migration into neurospheres was evaluated and the role of integrins in mediating the early adhesive events addressed. RESULTS: Brain EC attached, survived and migrated deep into neurospheres over a 5-day period. Neurospheres express the ECM proteins fibronectin and laminin, and brain EC adhesion to neurospheres was inhibited by RGD peptides and antibodies specific for the beta1, but not the alpha6 integrin subunit. CONCLUSION: A novel 3-D co-culture system for analysing the interactions between EC and neural cells of the developing CNS is presented. This system could be used to investigate the reciprocal influence of EC and NSC/NPC; to examine how NSC/NPC influence cerebral angiogenesis, and conversely, to examine how EC regulate the maintenance and differentiation of NSC/NPC. Using this system it is demonstrated that EC attachment to neurospheres is mediated by the fibronectin receptor, alpha5beta1 integrin.
Milner, R. (2007). A novel three-dimensional system to study interactions between endothelial cells and neural cells of the developing central nervous system. BMC Neuroscience, 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2202-8-3