First published August 27, 2019 - More info
During developmental angiogenesis blood vessels grow and remodel to ultimately build a hierarchical vascular network. Whether and how cell death signaling molecules contribute to blood vessel formation is still not well understood. Caspase-8 (Casp-8), a key protease in the extrinsic cell death-signaling pathway, regulates both cell death via apoptosis and necroptosis. Here we show that expression of Casp-8 in endothelial cells (ECs) was required for proper postnatal retina angiogenesis. EC specific Casp-8 knockout pups (Casp-8ECko) showed reduced retina angiogenesis, as the loss of Casp-8 reduced EC proliferation, sprouting and migration independent of its cell death function. Instead, the loss of Casp-8 caused hyperactivation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) downstream of receptor-interacting serine/threonine- protein kinase 3 (RIPK3) and destabilization of VE-cadherin at EC junctions. In a mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR), resembling retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), loss of Casp-8 in ECs was beneficial, as pathological neovascularization was reduced in Casp-8ECko pups. Taken together, we describe that Casp-8 acts in a cell-death independent manner in ECs to regulate the formation of the retina vasculature and that Casp-8 in ECs is mechanistically involved in the pathophysiology of ROP.