Académie royale de Médecine de Belgique


Résumé de Peter Carmeliet (Séance du 25 octobre 2008)


par P. CARMELIET (K.U.L.), invité.  

Understanding the molecular basis of the formation of blood vessels (angiogenesis) and nerves (neurogenesis) is of great medical relevance. It is well known that disregulation of angiogenesis leads to tissue ischemia, cancer, inflammation and other disorders, while a dysfunction of the nerve system contributes to motorneuron disorders like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The observations of Andreas Vesalius - Belgian anatomist of the 16th century - that patterning of vessels and nerves show more than remarkable similarities, are currently revisited in exciting studies. Indeed, often, vessels and nerves even track alongside each other. Recent genetic studies revealed that vessels and nerves share many more common principles and signals for navigation, proliferation and survival than previously suspected. For instance, gene inactivation studies in mice and zebrafish showed that axon guidance signals regulate vessel navigation. Conversely, prototypic angiogenic factors such as VEGF control neurogenesis and regulate axon and neuron guidance, independently of their angiogenic activity.

The next coming years promise to become an exciting journey to further unravel the molecular basis and explore the therapeutic potential of the neuro-vascular link.