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Netrins May Spur Blood Vessels in Ischemia, Diabetes

Their dual roles in neuronal and vessel regeneration offer unique therapeutic potential

FRIDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have found that the developmental signaling molecules called netrins, previously shown to direct neuron migration, also help form new blood vessels, according to a report published June 29 in Sciencexpress, the early edition of Science. The molecules boosted capillary growth in animal models of ischemia and diabetes.

Based on previous work suggesting netrins may have a role as proangiogenic factors, groups from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston used both in vitro and in vivo models to further characterize the effect these secreted factors have on the circulatory system.

The researchers showed that netrins promote proliferation, migration and tube formation when exposed to various human endothelial cell types and that they are required for blood vessel formation in the developmental model organism, zebrafish.

In the mouse, netrin expression resulted in a greater than twofold induction of capillary formation in a hindlimb ischemia model compared with a control and appeared to stimulate both neuronal and blood vessel formation in a diabetes model.

"This report provides proof of concept for a novel therapeutic strategy aimed at utilizing the dual vascular and neural regenerative properties of guidance molecules to treat diabetic complications that result from vasculopathy and neuropathy and sets the stage for further investigation," the authors conclude.

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