Endogenous endothelial cell signaling systems maintain vascular stability
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The function of the endothelium is to provide a network to allow delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues throughout the body. This network comprises adjacent endothelial cells that utilize adherens junction proteins such as vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cadherin) to maintain the appropriate level of vascular permeability. The disruption of VE-cadherin interactions during pathologic settings can lead to excessive vascular leak with adverse effects. Endogenous cell signaling systems have been defined, which help to maintain the proper level of vascular stability. Perhaps the best described system is Angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1). Ang-1 acting through its receptor Tie2 generates a well-described set of signaling events ultimately leading to enhanced vascular stability. In this review, we will focus on what is known about additional endogenous cell signaling systems that stabilize the vasculature, and using Ang-1/Tie2 as a model, we will address where our understanding of these additional systems is lacking.