August 7, 2014

No matter how many brilliant discoveries are made by countless brilliant scientists, there will always be a lot of unknowns out there. These unknowns are what keep our mental wheels turning, our imaginations running, and our labs busy. Today’s image is from a paper that describes a newly-discovered process of vascular development called “canalogenesis.”

Schlemm’s canal (SC) is a flattened tube that encircles the anterior portion of the eye and drains fluid from the area. Abnormal drainage contributes to glaucoma, a disease that causes vision loss, yet a description of SC development and SC endothelial cells (SECs) is incomplete. In a recent study, Kizhatil and colleagues developed a new whole-mount procedure and used high-resolution confocal microscopy to study large regions of the SC during development. Kizhatil and colleagues found that the phenotype of SECs is a blend of blood and lymphatic endothelial cells, and that the SC develops through by a newly-discovered process called “canalogenesis.” Canalogenesis has features that are similar to, yet different from, the three well-studied vascular development programs—vasculogenesis, angiogenesis, and lymphangiogenesis. The image above was acquired using the new whole-mount procedure that protects the delicate ocular drainage structures. The SC (blue) is visualized in 3D relative to nearby blood vessels (magenta).

Kizhatil, K., Ryan, M., Marchant, J., Henrich, S., & John, S. (2014). Schlemm's Canal Is a Unique Vessel with a Combination of Blood Vascular and Lymphatic Phenotypes that Forms by a Novel Developmental Process PLoS Biology, 12 (7) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001912

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