Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels from a pre-existing vascular bed. It is a multi-step process beginning with enzymatic degradation of the capillary basement membrane, followed by endothelial cell (EC) proliferation, migration, tube formation, assembly of a new basement membrane, and pericyte stabilization. Aberrant angiogenesis plays a major role in the pathogenesis of many diseases. The regulation of this complex process is an important therapeutic target. Success in this pursuit, however, requires the development of in vivo angiogenesis models that provide a reliable and facile platform for mechanistic studies of angiogenic regulation as well as drug development and testing (Carmeliet and Jain, 2011).
Postnatal development of mouse retinal vasculature offers a unique and powerful in vivo angiogenesis model because, unlike other species, mice undergo extensive angiogenesis-dependent maturation of their retinal vessels after birth. As such, this model is also very useful for the mechanistic study of embryonic vascularization (Stahl et al., 2010; Adini et al., 2003).
This protocol describes the steps involved in the whole mount processing of mouse eyes for visualization of the retinal vasculature.
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