Hirudo medicinalis: Avascular Tissues for Clear-Cut Angiogenesis Studies?

Author(s): Magda de Eguileor, Gianluca Tettamanti, Annalisa Grimaldi, Gianpaolo Perletti, Terenzio Congiu, Liliana Rinaldi, Roberto Valvassori

Journal Name: Current Pharmaceutical Design

Volume 10 , Issue 16 , 2004

Become EABM
Become Reviewer
Call for Editor


Basic studies on angiogenesis in normal and pathologic conditions, as well as research on drugs or genes / proteins that stimulate or regulate the angiogenic process, can rely on an increasing number of experimental models. Among non-mammalian models, Zebrafish is adopted by an increasing number of research groups. Moreover, angiogenesis and vasculogenesis in invertebrates like the leech Hirudo medicinalis share a high degree of similarity with the same processes occurring in humans, both under the structural / functional and biochemical points of view. Interestingly, Hirudo angiogenic growth factor receptors respond to corresponding human / mammalian recombinant growth factors and cytokines; in addition, Hirudo endogenous angiogenic growth factors and receptors react with antibodies against their human / mammalian counterparts. Furthermore, as it will be shown in this review, Hirudo has the unique advantage of having a virtually avascular muscular body wall, whereas the reliability of such a peculiar feature as a model for physiologically vascularised mammalian tissues has to be thoroughly investigated. Hirudo has proven so far to allow unambiguous, clear-cut studies on the angiogenic potential of gene-products or drugs, as well as on the antiangiogenic compounds. This article will review the biology of angiogenesis in Hirudo and the data so far collected on angiogenesis stimulation / modulation in this model; an example describing a study on the biological activity of a naked DNA vector for angiogenesis gene therapy will also be provided.

Keywords: leeches, angiogenesis, cytokines, gene therapy, vegf

Rights & PermissionsPrintExport Cite as

Article Details

Year: 2004
Page: [1979 - 1988]
Pages: 10
DOI: 10.2174/1381612043384358
Price: $65

Article Metrics

PDF: 3