Weinstein, Brant M. National Institute of Child Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland.
- Blood vessel formation
- Molecular regulators
- Clinical importance
- Animal developmental models
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The origin and development of blood vessels. Blood vessels are composed of two basic cell types, vascular endothelial cells and peri-endothelial cells (including vascular smooth muscle cells and elongated contractile cells called pericytes, both of which support the underlying endothelial cells). The inner epithelial lining of all blood vessels, adjacent to the lumen, is a single layer of endothelial cells (Fig. 1). In larger blood vessels, such as arteries and veins, the inner endothelial lining, called the tunica intima, is surrounded by a medial layer, the tunica media, composed of multiple layers of vascular smooth muscle cells embedded in elastin-rich extracellular matrix. The tunica media layer is surrounded by an extracellular matrix-rich layer called the tunica adventitia. In contrast, capillary walls consist of only a single layer of endothelial cells, sometimes surrounded by pericytes.
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