Islet vascularization is regulated by primary endothelial cilia via vegf-a-dependent signaling

Yan Xiong, M. Julia Scerbo, Anett Seelig, Francesco Volta, Nils O’brien, Andrea Dicker, Daniela Padula, Heiko Lickert, Jantje Mareike Gerdes, Per Olof Berggren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Islet vascularization is essential for intact islet function and glucose homeostasis. We have previously shown that primary cilia directly regulate insulin secretion. However, it remains unclear whether they are also implicated in islet vascularization. At eight weeks, murine Bbs4-/- islets show significantly lower intra-islet capillary density with enlarged diameters. Transplanted Bbs4-/-islets exhibit delayed re-vascularization and reduced vascular fenestration after engraftment, partially impairing vascular permeability and glucose delivery to β-cells. We identified primary cilia on endothelial cells as the underlying cause of this regulation, via the vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A)/VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) pathway. In vitro silencing of ciliary genes in endothelial cells disrupts VEGF-A/VEGFR2 internalization and downstream signaling. Consequently, key features of angiogenesis including proliferation and migration are attenuated in human BBS4 silenced endothelial cells. We conclude that endothelial cell primary cilia regulate islet vascularization and vascular barrier function via the VEGF-A/VEGFR2 signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere56914
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
StatePublished - Oct 2020


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