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Endothelial cells (ECs) form an extensive network of blood vessels that has numerous essential functions in the vertebrate body. In addition to their well-established role as a versatile transport network, blood vessels can induce organ formation or direct growth and differentiation processes by providing signals in a paracrine (angiocrine) fashion. Tissue repair also requires the local restoration of vasculature. ECs are emerging as important signaling centers that coordinate regeneration and help to prevent deregulated, disease-promoting processes. Vascular cells are also part of stem cell niches and have key roles in hematopoiesis, bone formation, and neurogenesis. Here, we review these newly identified roles of ECs in the regulation of organ morphogenesis, maintenance, and regeneration.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends in cell biology

Publication Date





148 - 157


Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Department of Tissue Morphogenesis, University of Münster, Faculty of Medicine, D-48149 Münster, Germany.


Endothelium, Vascular, Endothelial Cells, Animals, Humans, Signal Transduction, Cell Differentiation, Hematopoiesis, Morphogenesis, Neovascularization, Physiologic, Stem Cell Niche