Intussusceptive angiogenesis is a general and ubiquitous formative process of the vasculature. The formation of tissue pillars across the vascular lumen has three distinct consequences depending on the pillar location. It results in rapid expansion of the capillary networks (= IMG), it implements vascular tree formation (= IAR), and/or it leads to dynamic adaptations and remodeling of the vascular bed (= IBR). It plays a crucial role in embryonic blood vessel formation, growth, tissue repair, and tumor angiogenesis.

Taking into consideration that numerous pro- and antian-giogenic agents act in complex vascular beds formed mainly by intussusception, it is evident that better understanding of the intussusceptive angiogenesis, and especially its regulatory mechanisms, will open the way for development of novel therapeutic strategies.


1. Caduff, J. H., Fischer, L. C., and Burri, P. H. (1986). Scanning electron microscope study of the developing microvasculature in the postnatal rat lung. Anat. Rec. 216, 154—164. In this study investigating casts of the lung microvasculature by scanning electron microscopy, the authors put forward the idea that a capillary network can grow by the insertion of slender transcapillary tissue pillars. They coined and explained the term of intussusception.

2. Burri, P. H., and Tarek, M. R. (1990). A novel mechanism of capillary growth in the rat pulmonary microcirculation. Anat. Rec. 228, 35-45.

This paper demonstrates by electron microscopy of serial ultrathin sections that transcapillary tissue pillars with diameters around 1 mm postulated for the intussusception process really exist. A mode of formation is proposed on the basis of the pillars' ultrastructure.

3. Burri, P. H., and Djonov, V. (2002). Intussusceptive angiogenesis: the alternative to capillary sprouting. Mol. Aspects Med. 23, 1-27.

4. Djonov, V., Schmid, M., Tschanz, S. A., and Burri, P. H. (2000). Intus-susceptive angiogenesis: Its role in embryonic vascular network formation. Circ. Res. 86, 286-292. First demonstration of the involvement of intussusceptive pillar formation in the morphogenesis ofperipheral vascular trees.

5. Djonov, V., Galli, A. B., and Burri, P. H. (2000). Intussusceptive arborization contributes to vascular tree formation in the chick chorio-allantoic membrane. Anat. Embryol. 202, 347-357.

6. Djonov, V., Andres, A. C., and Ziemiecki, A. (2001). Vascular remodelling during the normal and malignant life cycle of the mammary gland. Microsc. Res. Tech. 52, 182-189.

7. Djonov, V. G., Kurz, H., and Burri, P. H. (2002). Optimality in the developing vascular system: branching remodeling by means of intussusception as an efficient adaptation mechanism. Dev. Dyn. 224, 391-402. First demonstration of the involvement of intussusceptive pillar formation in the remodeling and pruning process of small arteries as adaptive optimization of structures to hemodynamics.

8. Kurz, H., Burri, P. H., and Djonov, V. G. (2003). Angiogenesis and vascular remodeling by intussusception: From form to function. News Physiol. Sci. 18, 65-70.

9. Djonov, V., Baum, O., and Burri, P. H. (2003). Vascular remodelling by intussusception. Cell Tissue Res. 314, 107-117.

Capsule Biographies

Peter H. Burri is Professor Emeritus of Anatomy. He was the head of the Section for Developmental Biology at the Institute of Anatomy of the University of Berne, Switzerland, and became the Chairman of the Institute from 1993 to 2003. His primary research interest was lung development, growth, and regeneration. His research on angiogenetic mechanisms developed directly from the lung studies. Dr. Burri's work has constantly been supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Valentin Djonov is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Anatomy of the University of Berne, Switzerland. After completing research in tumor biology in the lab of Professor Friis, he joined the group of Dr. Burri in 1995 and started work on intussusceptive angiogenesis. He is now leading the research group in this field. Dr. Djonov's work is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Bernese Cancer League.

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Essentials of Human Physiology

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