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Excessive vascular sprouting underlies cerebral hemorrhage in mice lacking αVβ8-TGFβ signaling in the brain

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Vascular development of the central nervous system and blood-brain barrier (BBB) induction are closely linked processes. The role of factors that promote endothelial sprouting and vascular leak, such as vascular endothelial growth factor A, are well described, but the factors that suppress angiogenic sprouting and their impact on the BBB are poorly understood. Here, we show that integrin αVβ8 activates angiosuppressive TGFβ gradients in the brain, which inhibit endothelial cell sprouting. Loss of αVβ8 in the brain or downstream TGFβ1-TGFBR2-ALK5-Smad3 signaling in endothelial cells increases vascular sprouting, branching and proliferation, leading to vascular dysplasia and hemorrhage. Importantly, BBB function in Itgb8 mutants is intact during early stages of vascular dysgenesis before hemorrhage. By contrast, Pdgfb(ret/ret) mice, which exhibit severe BBB disruption and vascular leak due to pericyte deficiency, have comparatively normal vascular morphogenesis and do not exhibit brain hemorrhage. Our data therefore suggest that abnormal vascular sprouting and patterning, not BBB dysfunction, underlie developmental cerebral hemorrhage.

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