Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 314, Issue 1, pp 107–117 | Cite as

Vascular remodeling by intussusceptive angiogenesis

  • Valentin DjonovEmail author
  • Oliver Baum
  • Peter H. Burri


Intussusception (growth within itself) is an alternative to the sprouting mode of angiogenesis. The protrusion of opposing microvascular walls into the capillary lumen creates a contact zone between endothelial cells. The endothelial bilayer is perforated, intercellular contacts are reorganized, and a transluminal pillar with an interstitial core is formed, which is soon invaded by myofibroblasts and pericytes leading to its rapid enlargement by the deposition of collagen fibrils. Intussusception has been implicated in three processes of vascular growth and remodeling. (1) Intussusceptive microvascular growth permits rapid expansion of the capillary plexus, furnishing a large endothelial surface for metabolic exchange. (2) Intussusceptive arborization causes changes in the size, position, and form of preferentially perfused capillary segments, creating a hierarchical tree. (3) Intussusceptive branching remodeling (IBR) leads to modification of the branching geometry of supplying vessels, optimizing pre- and postcapillary flow properties. IBR can also lead to the removal of branches by pruning in response to changes in metabolic needs. None of the three modes requires the immediate proliferation of endothelial cells but rather the rearrangement and plastic remodeling of existing ones. Intussusception appears to be triggered immediately after the formation of the primitive capillary plexus by vasculogenesis or sprouting. The advantage of this mechanism of growth over sprouting is that blood vessels are generated more rapidly in an energetically and metabolically more economic manner, as extensive cell proliferation, basement membrane degradation, and invasion of the surrounding tissue are not required; the capillaries thereby formed are less leaky. This process occurs without disrupting organ function. Improvements in our understanding of the process should enable the development of novel pro- and anti-angiogenic therapeutic treatments.


Angiogenesis Non-sprouting angiogenesis Intussusceptive microvascular growth Intussusceptive arborization Intussusceptive branching remodeling Pruning Sprouting 



We thank K. Sala, B. de Breuyn, B. Haenni, K. Babl, and B. Krieger for their technical assistance, S.A. Tschanz for the three-dimensional reconstruction of pillars, and E. de Peyer for art work.

Supplementary material

Simulation IBR.gif

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Simulation IMG.gif

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Simulation Pillar.gif

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of AnatomyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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