Microembolus clearance through angiophagy is an auxiliary mechanism preserving tissue perfusion in the rat brain

Anne Eva van der Wijk, Theodosia Georgakopoulou, Jisca Majolée, Jan S.M. van Bezu, Miesje M. van der Stoel, Bert J. van het Hof, Helga E. de Vries, Stephan Huveneers, Peter L. Hordijk, Erik N.T.P. Bakker, Ed van Bavel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Considering its intolerance to ischemia, it is of critical importance for the brain to efficiently process microvascular occlusions and maintain tissue perfusion. In addition to collateral microvascular flow and enzymatic degradation of emboli, the endothelium has the potential to engulf microparticles and thereby recanalize the vessel, through a process called angiophagy. Here, we set out to study the dynamics of angiophagy in relation to cytoskeletal remodeling in vitro and reperfusion in vivo. We show that polystyrene microspheres and fibrin clots are actively taken up by (brain) endothelial cells in vitro, and chart the dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton during this process using live cell imaging. Whereas microspheres were taken up through the formation of a cup structure by the apical endothelial membrane, fibrin clots were completely engulfed by the cells, marked by dense F-actin accumulation surrounding the clot. Both microspheres and fibrin clots were retained in the endothelial cells. Notably, fibrin clots were not degraded intracellularly. Using an in vivo microembolization rat model, in which microparticles are injected into the common carotid artery, we found that microspheres are transported by the endothelium from the microvasculature into the brain parenchyma. Microembolization with microspheres caused temporal opening of the blood–brain barrier and vascular nonperfusion, followed by microsphere extravasation and restoration of vessel perfusion over time. Taken together, angiophagy is accompanied by active cytoskeletal remodeling of the endothelium, and is an effective mechanism to restore perfusion of the occluded microvasculature in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number195
JournalActa neuropathologica communications
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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