[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Purpose:
The mode of development of the human hyaloid vascular system (HVS) remains unclear. Early studies suggested that these blood vessels formed by vasculogenesis, while the current concept seems to favor angiogenesis as the mode of development. We examined embryonic and fetal human HVS using a variety of techniques to gain new insights into formation of this vasculature.
Embryonic and fetal human eyes from 5.5 to 12 weeks gestation (WG) were prepared for immunohistochemical analysis or for light and electron microscopy. Immunolabeling of sections with a panel of antibodies directed at growth factors, transcription factors, and hematopoietic stem cell markers was employed.
Light microscopic examination revealed free blood islands (BI) in the embryonic vitreous cavity (5.5-7 WG). Giemsa stain revealed that BI were aggregates of mesenchymal cells and primitive nucleated erythroblasts. Free cells were also observed. Immunolabeling demonstrated that BI were composed of mesenchymal cells that expressed hemangioblast markers (CD31, CD34, C-kit, CXCR4, Runx1, and VEGFR2), erythroblasts that expressed embryonic hemoglobin (Hb-ε), and cells that expressed both. Few cells were proliferating as determined by lack of Ki67 antigen. As development progressed (12 WG), blood vessels became more mature structurally with pericyte investment and basement membrane formation. Concomitantly, Hb-ε and CXCR4 expression was down-regulated and von Willebrand factor expression was increased with the formation of Weibel-Palade bodies.
Our results support the view that the human HVS, like the choriocapillaris, develops by hemo-vasculogenesis, the process by which vasculogenesis, erythropoiesis, and hematopoiesis occur simultaneously from common precursors, hemangioblasts.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the structural and functional maturation of the choriocapillaris (CC) and to determine when fenestrations form, the capillaries are invested with pericytes, and the endothelial cells (ECs) became functional.
Immunohistochemistry was performed on cryopreserved sections of embryonic/fetal human eyes from 7 to 22 weeks' gestation (WG), using antibodies against PAL-E, PV-1 (fenestrations), carbonic anhydrase IV (CA IV), eNOS, and alpha-smooth muscle actin (alphaSMA) and NG2 (two pericyte markers) and the EC marker (CD31). Alkaline phosphatase (APase) enzymatic activity was demonstrated by enzyme histochemistry. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was performed on eyes at 11, 14, 16, and 22 WG. Adult human eyes were used as the positive control.
All EC markers were present in the CC by 7 WG. PAL-E, CA IV, and eNOS immunoreactivities and APase activity were present in the CC by 7 to 9 WG. TEM analysis demonstrated how structurally immature this vasculature was, even at 11 WG: no basement membrane, absence of pericytes, and poorly formed lumens that were filled with filopodia. The few fenestrations that were observed were often present within the luminal space in the filopodia. Contiguous fenestrations and significant PV-1 were not observed until 21 to 22 WG. alphaSMA was prominent at 22 WG, and the maturation of pericytes was confirmed by TEM.
It appears that ECs and their precursors express enzymes present in adult CC well before they are structurally mature. Although ECs make tight junctions early in development, contiguous fenestrations and mature pericytes occur much later in development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Prior investigation has demonstrated that angioblasts are present in the inner retinas of human embryos and fetuses and that they differentiate and organize to form the primordial retinal vasculature. The purpose of this study was to characterize these angioblasts further and examine ligands that might control their migration and differentiation.
Immunohistochemistry was used to localize stroma-derived factor-1 (SDF-1), its receptor CXCR4, stem cell factor (SCF), and its receptor c-Kit on sections obtained from human eyes at from 6 to 23 weeks' gestation (WG). Coexpression of CD39 (marker for retinal angioblasts and endothelial cells) and CXCR4 or c-Kit was investigated by confocal microscopy.
SDF-1 was prominent in inner retina with the greatest reaction product near the internal limiting membrane (ILM). SCF immunoreactivity was also confined to the inner retina and increased significantly between 7 and 12 WG. The level of both ligands declined by 22 WG. A layer of CXCR4(+) and c-Kit(+) precursors, some of which coexpressed CD39, existed in the inner retina from 7 to 12 WG. With migration, c-Kit was downregulated, whereas CD39(+) cells continued to express CXCR4 as they formed cords. With canalization, CXCR4 expression was downregulated.
Embryonic human retina has a pool of precursors (CXCR4(+) and c-Kit(+)) that enlarged centrifugally during fetal development. From this pool emerges angioblasts, which migrate anteriorly into the nerve fiber layer where SDF-1 and SCF levels are highest. c-Kit expression declines with apparent migration, and CXCR4 expression declines with canalization of new vessels. Both SCF and SDF-1 are associated with the differentiation of retinal precursors into angioblasts and their migration to sites of vessel assembly.
Article · Jun 2008 · Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Nanophthalmos is a genetic disorder characterized by very small, hyperopic eyes that are without gross structural defects. Recessive nanophthalmos is caused by severe mutations in the MFRP gene, which encodes a Frizzled-related transmembrane protein that is selectively expressed in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and ciliary body.
For two MFRP -/- adults, we have obtained records of refraction that begin in early childhood. At the age of 6 months, one patient's eyes already had a refractive error of +12.25 D, and over the next 20 years this slowly increased to +17.50 D. Adults homozygous for null mutations in MFRP have eyes with axial lengths shorter than those of normal newborns. Furthermore, the unusually high curvature of their corneas is consistent with eyes that had been smaller than normal during late fetal development. MFRP protein was first detected at 14 weeks of gestation, when it was restricted to the posterior pole RPE. By 20 weeks gestation, MFRP expression had spread laterally, and was found throughout the RPE. MFRP protein was detected in both posterior and lateral RPE of the adult eye.
Embryonic function of the MFRP gene appears necessary for the eye to reach its full size at birth. Its onset of expression in the RPE during mid-gestation suggests that MFRP does not participate in early formation of the optic cup, and is consistent with a role in later growth and development of the eye. Patients without MFRP gene function exhibit no correction of refractive error during childhood, which suggests that this gene is essential for emmetropization, a complex process by which vision regulates axial growth of the eye.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to characterize normal human choroidal vascular development from 6-23 weeks gestation (WG). Markers of endothelial cells (EC) (CD34, CD31, vWf), angioblasts and EC (CD39), leukocytes (CD45), erythroblasts (epsilon chain of hemoglobin, Hb-e), proliferating cells (Ki67), and VEGFR-2 were employed. At 6-7 WG, many erythroblasts were observed within islands of precursor cells in the choriocapillaris layer and others were independent from the islands. Many erythroblasts (Hb-epsilon(+)) were also positive for EC markers and/or VEGFR-2. By 8-12 WG, most of the Hb-epsilon cells had disappeared and vascular lumens became apparent. At 14-23 WG, some EC were proliferating on the scleral side of choriocapillaris in association with forming deeper vessels. In conclusion, embryonic choriocapillaris appears to form initially by hemo-vasculogenesis (blood vessels and blood cells form simultaneously from common precursors) while angiogenesis appears to be the mode of intermediate and large choroidal vessel development in the fetus.
Full-text Article · Aug 2007 · Developmental Dynamics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Vasculogenesis and angiogenesis are the conventional modes for vascular development. Hemovasculogenesis is the formation of endothelial (ECs), hematopoietic, and erythropoietic cells simultaneously from a common precursor, the hemangioblast, as in blood islands. The purpose of this study was to investigate the mechanism(s) of normal human choroidal vascular development. Immunohistochemical analysis of human choroids of 6–23 weeks gestation (WG) was performed with antibodies for markers of ECs (CD34, CD31), angioblasts and ECs (CD39), erythroblasts [Epsilon Hemoglobin (E-Hb)], proliferating cells (Ki67), and VEGFR-2. At 6–7 WG, many erythroblasts (E-Hb+) were observed in the choriocapillaris layer and some were separated from and independent of any vascular structure. Many erythroblasts (E-Hb+) also expressed CD34, CD31 and/or VEGFR-2. At this stage, few definitive vascular lumens were detected. By 9 WG, most of E-Hb+ cells had disappeared and vascular lumens became apparent. At 14–23 WG, no E-Hb+ cells were seen. Some Ki67 positive cells were also positive for CD34 and/or CD39, especially at the scleral side of choriocapillaris where they were associated with forming deeper choroidal vessels. Embryonically, the choriocapillaris appears to form by hemovasculogenesis (E-Hb+/CD31+ cells), while angiogenesis appears to be the mode of large choroidal vessel development (CD34+/Ki67+).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: There is increasing evidence that the hemangioblast, a common progenitor for hematopoietic cells and endothelial cells, participates in embryonic and extra-embryonic vasculogenesis in some organs. Whether resident angioblasts or endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) contribute to human retinal vasculogenesis is still a matter of controversy. To address this controversy, fetal human retinas of 6-23 weeks gestation (WG) were examined using immunohistochemistry and a panel of antibodies against endothelial cell markers (CD34, CD31), a marker for retinal angioblasts and endothelium (CD39/ecto-ADPase), and a marker for precursors and hemangioblasts (CXCR4). Confocal microscopic spectral analysis and double labeling with Ki67 was used to identify the proliferating cell types. In the inner neuroblastic layer of the 6-8 WG retina and in the putative ganglion cell layer in avascular regions of older eyes (14 WG-20 WG), scattered CD39+ angioblasts were well in advance of forming vasculature. There was a layer of CXCR4+ cells in the inner retina that was reduced in size with development. As blood vessels formed, CD39+ cells were always well in advance of the vascular front and they expressed CXCR4. This demonstrates that a pool of resident angioblasts express CD39 and CXCR4 as they differentiate and participate in vasculogenesis in the fetal human. They retain expression of CD39 as endothelial cells in the newly formed retinal vasculature but they down-regulate CXCR4 expression.
Full-text Article · Dec 2006 · Developmental Dynamics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the localization and relative levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF; an angiogenic factor) and pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF; an antiangiogenic factor) in aged human choroid and to determine if the localization or their relative levels changed in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Ocular tissues were obtained from eight aged control donors (age range, 75-86 years; mean age, 79.8 years) with no evidence or history of chorioretinal disease and from 12 donors diagnosed with AMD (age range, 61-105 years; mean age, 83.9 years). Tissues were cryopreserved and streptavidin alkaline phosphatase immunohistochemistry was performed with rabbit polyclonal anti-human VEGF and rabbit polyclonal anti-human PEDF antibodies. Binding of the antibodies was blocked by preincubation of the antibody with an excess of recombinant human PEDF or VEGF peptide. Choroidal blood vessels were identified with mouse anti-human CD-34 antibody in adjacent tissue sections. Three independent observers graded the immunohistochemical reaction product. The most prominent sites of VEGF and PEDF localization in aged control choroid were RPE-Bruch's membrane-choriocapillaris complex including RPE basal lamina, intercapillary septa, and choroidal stroma. There was no significant difference in immunostaining intensity and localization of VEGF and PEDF in aged control choroids. The most intense VEGF immunoreactivity was observed in leukocytes within blood vessels. AMD choroid had a similar pattern and intensity of VEGF immunostaining to that observed in aged controls. However, PEDF immunoreactivity was significantly lower in RPE cells (p=0.0073), RPE basal lamina (p=0.0141), Bruch's membrane (p<0.0001), and choroidal stroma (p=0.0161) of AMD choroids. The most intense PEDF immunoreactivity was observed in disciform scars. Drusen and basal laminar deposits (BLDs) were positive for VEGF and PEDF. In aged control subjects, VEGF and PEDF immunostaining was the most intense in RPE-Bruch's membrane-choriocapillaris complex. In AMD, PEDF was significantly lower in RPE cells, RPE basal lamina, Bruch's membrane and choroidal stroma. These data suggest that a critical balance exists between PEDF and VEGF, and PEDF may counteract the angiogenic potential of VEGF. The decrease in PEDF may disrupt the balance and be permissive for the formation of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) in AMD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: To evaluate evidence for the presence of vascular precursor cells (angioblasts) and astrocyte precursor cells (APCs) in the developing human retina and determine their relationship.
Pax-2/GFAP/CD-34 triple-label immunohistochemistry was applied to four retinas aged 12, 14, 16, and 20 weeks of gestation (WG) to label APCs, astrocytes, and patent blood vessels. APCs are Pax-2(+)/GFAP(-), whereas astrocytes are Pax-2(+)/GFAP(+). Adenosine diphosphatase (ADPase) enzyme histochemistry, which identifies endothelial cells and vascular precursors, was applied to human retinas aged 12, 16, 17, and 19 WG. Nissl stain, a nonspecific cell soma marker, was applied to 14.5-, 18-, and 21-WG retinas. Established blood vessels were visualized with CD34 and ADPase.
Topographical analysis of the distribution of Nissl-stained spindle cells and ADPase(+) vascular cells showed that these two populations have similar distributions at corresponding ages. ADPase(+) vascular precursor cells preceded the leading edge of patent vessels by more than 1 millimeter. In contrast, Pax-2(+)/GFAP(-) APCs preceded the leading edge of CD34(+) blood vessels by a very small margin, and committed astrocytes (Pax-2(+)/GFAP(+)) were associated with formed vessels and nerve fiber bundles. Two populations of ADPase(+) cells were evident, a spindle-shaped population located superficially and a deeper spherical population. The outer limits of these populations remain static with maturation.
A combination of Pax-2/GFAP/CD34 immunohistochemistry, Nissl staining, and ADPase histochemistry showed that the vascular precursor cells (angioblasts), identified using ADPase and Nissl, represent a population distinct from Pax-2(+)/GFAP(-) APCs in the human retina. These results lead to the conclusion that formation of the initial human retinal vasculature takes place through vasculogenesis from the prior invasion of vascular precursor cells.