CD44, a cell-surface receptor for hyaluronan, has been implicated in endothelial cell functions, but its role in the formation of blood vessels in vivo has not been established. In CD44-null mice, vascularization of Matrigel implants and tumor and wound angiogenesis were inhibited. Leukocyte accumulation during tumor growth and wound healing in wild-type and CD44-null mice were comparable, and reconstitution of CD44-null mice with wild-type bone marrow did not restore the wild-type phenotype, suggesting that impairments in angiogenesis hi CD44-deficient mice are due to the loss of endothelial CD44. Although the cell proliferation, survival, and wound-induced migration of CD44-null endothelial cells were intact, these cells were impaired in their in vitro ability to form tubes. Nascent vessels in Matrigel implants from CD44-null mice demonstrated irregular luminal surfaces characterized by retracted cells and thinned endothelia. Further, an anti-CD44 antibody that disrupted in vitro tube formation induced hemorrhage around Matrigel implants, suggesting that antagonism of endothelial CD44 undermined the integrity of the endothelium of nascent vessels. These data establish a role for CD44 during in vivo angiogenesis and suggest that CD44 may contribute to the organization and/or stability of developing endothelial tubular networks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine