Endothelial cell proliferation in the choriocapillaris during human retinal differentiation

Alexandra Allende*, M. C. Madigan, J. M. Provis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Differentiation patterns of the neural retina and its retinal vasculature are not well matched. The foveal region differentiates first, however the central retina is not vascularised until late in gestation. The authors explored the hypothesis that higher rates of endothelial cell proliferation in the choriocapillaris of the central retina might compensate for the slow growth of central retinal vessels, providing supplementary nutrients to the region during the early stages of neuronal maturation. Methods: Frozen sections of five human fetal eyes (14-18.5 weeks' gestation), were examined for Ki-67 and CD34 immunoreactivity using confocal microscopy. Measurements of choriocapillaris area and the number of proliferating choroidal endothelial cells were used to calculate the rate of choroidal endothelial proliferation at five different chorioretinal locations. Results: The choriocapillaris area is consistently greater in the foveal region than at other locations and increases progressively with age. A higher rate of endothelial cell proliferation was found in parts of the choriocapillaris associated with the undifferentiated (proliferating) neural retina, compared with the differentiated, central region. Conclusion: The findings suggest that mechanisms regulating proliferation and growth of the choroidal vasculature are independent of differentiation in the neural retina, and are thus profoundly different from mechanisms that regulate formation of the retinal vasculature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1046-1051
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


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