Reciprocal interactions between endothelial cells and macrophages in angiogenic vascular niches
The ability of macrophages to promote vascular growth has been associated with the secretion and local delivery of classic proangiogenic factors (e.g., VEGF-A and proteases). More recently, a series of studies have also revealed that physical contact of macrophages with growing blood vessels coordinates vascular fusion of emerging sprouts. Interestingly, the interactions between macrophages and vascular endothelial cells (ECs) appear to be bidirectional, such that activated ECs also support the expansion and differentiation of proangiogenic macrophages from myeloid progenitors. Here, we discuss recent findings suggesting that dynamic angiogenic vascular niches might also exist in vivo, e.g. in tumors, where sprouting blood vessels and immature myeloid cells like monocytes engage in heterotypic interactions that are required for angiogenesis. Finally, we provide an account of emerging mechanisms of cell-to-cell communication that rely on secreted microvesicles, such as exosomes, which can offer a vehicle for the rapid exchange of molecules and genetic information between macrophages and ECs engaged in angiogenesis.