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The vast blood-vessel network of the circulatory system is crucial for maintaining bodily homeostasis, delivering essential molecules and blood cells, and removing waste products. Blood-vessel dysfunction and dysregulation of new blood-vessel formation are related to the onset and progression of many diseases including cancer, ischemic disease, inflammation and immune disorders. Endothelial cells (ECs) are fundamental components of blood vessels and their proliferation is essential for new vessel formation, making them good therapeutic targets for regulating the latter. New blood-vessel formation occurs by vasculogenesis and angiogenesis during development. Induction of ECs termed tip, stalk and phalanx cells by interactions between vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and its receptors (VEGFR1-3) and between Notch and Delta-like Notch ligands (DLLs) is crucial for regulation of angiogenesis. Although the importance of angiogenesis is unequivocal in the adult, vasculogenesis effected by endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) may also contribute to post-natal vessel formation. However, the definition of these cells is ambiguous and they include several distinct cell types under the simple classification of 'EPC'. Furthermore, recent evidence indicates that ECs within the intima show clonal expansion in some situations and that they may harbor vascular-resident endothelial stem cells. In this article, we summarize recent knowledge on vascular development and new blood-vessel formation in the adult. We also introduce concepts of EC heterogeneity and EC clonal expansion, referring to our own recent findings. © The Japanese Society for Immunology. 2020. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


Hisamichi Naito, Tomohiro Iba, Nobuyuki Takakura. Mechanisms of new blood-vessel formation and proliferative heterogeneity of endothelial cells. International immunology. 2020 May 08;32(5):295-305

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PMID: 31996897

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