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Dynamics of angiogenesis during murine retinal development

Dynamics of angiogenesis during murine retinal development: A coupled in vivo and in silico study

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  • M.G. Watson
  • S.R. McDougall
  • M.A.J. Chaplain
  • A.H. Devlin
  • C.A. Mitchell

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2351-2364
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number74
StatePublished - 2012


The manner in which the superficial retinal vascular plexus (RVP) develops in neonatal wild-type mice is relatively well documented and poses an interesting challenge to the mathematical modelling community. Prior to birth, astrocyte sprouting and proliferation begin around the edge of the optic nerve head, and subsequent astrocyte migration in response to a chemotactic gradient of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-A results in the formation of a dense scaffold on the surface of the inner retina. Astrocytes express a variety of chemotactic and haptotactic proteins that subsequently induce endothelial cell sprouting and modulate growth of the RVP. An experimentally informed, two-dimensional hybrid partial differential equation-discrete model is derived to track the outward migration of individual astrocyte and endothelial tip cells in response to the appropriate biochemical cues. Blood perfusion is included throughout the development of the plexus, and the evolving retinal trees are allowed to adapt and remodel by means of several biological stimuli. The resulting wild-type in silico RVP structures are compared with corresponding experimental whole mounts taken at various stages of development, and agreement between the respective vascular morphologies is found to be excellent. Subsequent numerical predictions help elucidate some of the key biological processes underlying retinal development and demonstrate the potential of the virtual retina for the investigation of various vascular-related diseases of the eye.



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