Christoffersson G, Lomei J, O'Callaghan P, Kreuger J, Engblom S, Phillipson M
J Leukoc Biol 102 (3) 741-751 [2017-09-00; online 2017-06-05]
Angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels, is a complex process requiring the orchestration of numerous different cell types, growth factors, and chemokines. Some of the recently acknowledged actors in this process are immune cells. They accumulate at hypoxic sites, but the kinetics, dynamics, and regulation of that trafficking are unknown. In this study, we used intravital and live cell imaging to understand how neutrophils and macrophages migrate and behave at angiogenic sites. We developed two reproducible models of angiogenesis: one by transplanting isolated and hypoxic pancreatic islets into the cremaster muscles of mice, and another by in vitro coculturing of mouse aortic rings with neutrophils. In vivo imaging of the hypoxic site revealed recruitment of neutrophils and macrophages, which occurred in parallel, with depletion of one subset not affecting the accumulation of the other. We found, by cell tracking and statistical analyses, that neutrophils migrated in a directional manner to "angiogenic hotspots" around the islet where endothelial sprouting occurs, which was confirmed in the in vitro model of angiogenesis and is dependent on CXCL12 signaling. Intimate interactions between neutrophils and neovessels were prevalent, and neutrophil depletion greatly hampered vessel growth. Macrophages were less motile and attained supportive positions around the neovessels. Here, we present two novel in vivo and in vitro imaging models to study leukocyte behavior and actions during angiogenesis. These models unveiled that neutrophil migration at a hypoxic site was guided by signals emanating from sprouting endothelium where these immune cells gathered at "angiogenic hotspots" at which vascular growth occurred.