Traffic Patterns of the Migrating Endothelium: How Force Transmission Regulates Vascular Malformation and Functional Shunting During Angiogenic Remodelling

Lowell T Edgar, Hyojin Park, Jessica R Crawshaw, James M Osborne, Anne Eichmann, Miguel O Bernabeu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Angiogenesis occurs in distinct phases: initial spouting is followed by remodelling in which endothelial cells (ECs) composing blood vessels rearrange by migrating against the direction of flow. Abnormal remodelling can result in vascular malformation. Such is the case in mutation of the Alk1 receptor within the mouse retina which disrupts flow-migration coupling, creating mixed populations of ECs polarised with/against flow which aggregate into arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). The lack of live imaging options in vivo means that the collective EC dynamics that drive AVM and the consequences of mixed populations of polarity remain a mystery. Therefore, our goal is to present a novel agent-based model to provide theoretical insight into EC force transmission and collective dynamics during angiogenic remodelling. Force transmission between neighbouring agents consists of extrusive forces which maintain spacing and cohesive forces which maintain the collective. We performed migration simulations within uniformly polarised populations (against flow) and mixed polarity (with/against flow). Within uniformly polarised populations, extrusive forces stabilised the plexus by facilitating EC intercalation which ensures that cells remained evenly distributed. Excess cohesion disrupts intercalation, resulting in aggregations of cells and functional shunting. Excess cohesion between ECs prevents them from resolving diameter balances within the plexus, leading to prolonged flow reversals which exert a critical behaviour change within the system as they switch the direction of cell migration and traffic patterns at bifurcations. Introducing mixtures of cell polarity dramatically changed the role of extrusive forces within the system. At low extrusion, opposing ECs were able to move past each other; however, at high extrusion the pushing between cells resulted in migration speeds close to zero, forming traffic jams and disrupting migration. In our study, we produced vascular malformations and functional shunting with either excess cohesion between ECs or mixtures of cell polarity. At the centre of both these mechanisms are cell-cell adherens junctions, which are involved in flow sensing/polarity and must remodelling dynamically to allow rearrangements of cells during vascular patterning. Thus, our findings implicate junctional dysfunction as a new target in the treatment and prevention of vascular disease and AVMs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number840066
Pages (from-to)840066
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • angiogenesis
  • angiogenic remodelling
  • arteriovenous malformations
  • collective migration
  • endothelial cells
  • flow-migration coupling
  • force transmission
  • migration dynamics


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