Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center have identified a new molecular pathway that is designed to suppress blood vessel pattering in the developing retina.
The finding may pave the way for fighting diseases of the retina and a variety of cancers.
After a series of experiments in cell cultures and mouse models, researchers reported that myeloid cells and blood cells involved in the immune system use this molecular pathway to guide blood vessel branching in the retina.
"We show in the setting of retina that myeloid cells use this pathway to direct vascular traffic. We think modulation of this pathway might become a promising therapeutic option," said Richard Lang, senior investigator on the study and director of the Visual Systems Group in the Division of Ophthalmology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
Researchers determined that the new pathway works by myeloid cells utilizing the Wnt pathway could regulate expression of a gene known as Flt1. Flt1 encodes a protein, which suppresses vascular growth by binding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
According to Lang, the Wnt-Flt1 response is a new pathway for regulating VEGF-stimulated angiogenesis (blood vessel formation).
The study is published online in Nature.