Kinetic analysis of vasculogenesis quantifies dynamics of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis in vitro

Kaela M. Varberg, Seth Winfree, Kenneth W. Dunn, Laura S. Haneline

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Vasculogenesis is a complex process by which endothelial stem and progenitor cells undergo de novo vessel formation. Quantitative assessment of vasculogenesis has become a central readout of endothelial progenitor cell functionality, and therefore, several attempts have been made to improve both in vitro and in vivo vasculogenesis models. However, standard methods are limited in scope, with static measurements failing to capture many aspects of this highly dynamic process. Therefore, the goal of developing this novel protocol was to assess the kinetics of in vitro vasculogenesis in order to quantitate rates of network formation and stabilization, as well as provide insight into potential mechanisms underlying vascular dysfunction. Application of this protocol is demonstrated using fetal endothelial colony forming cells (ECFCs) exposed to maternal diabetes mellitus. Fetal ECFCs were derived from umbilical cord blood following birth, cultured, and plated in slides containing basement membrane matrix, where they underwent vasculogenesis. Images of the entire slide wells were acquired using time-lapse phase contrast microscopy over 15 hours. Images were analyzed for derivation of quantitative data using an analysis software called Kinetic Analysis of Vasculogenesis (KAV). KAV uses image segmentation followed by skeletonization to analyze network components from stacks of multi-time point phase contrast images to derive ten parameters (9 measured, 1 calculated) of network structure including: closed networks, network areas, nodes, branches, total branch length, average branch length, triple-branched nodes, quad-branched nodes, network structures, and the branch to node ratio. Application of this protocol identified altered rates of vasculogenesis in ECFCs obtained from pregnancies complicated by diabetes mellitus. However, this technique has broad implications beyond the scope reported here. Implementation of this approach will enhance mechanistic assessment and improve functional readouts of vasculogenesis and other biologically important branching processes in numerous cell types or disease states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere57044
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number131
StatePublished - Jan 31 2018


  • Developmental Biology
  • Endothelial colony forming cells
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Issue 131
  • Kinetic
  • Microscopy
  • Network formation
  • Time-lapse imaging
  • Vasculogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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