Embryonic mouse blood flow and oxygen correlate with early pancreatic differentiation

Sohail R. Shah, Farzad Esni, Adam Jakub, Jose Paredes, Nikesh Lath, Marcus Malek, Douglas A. Potoka, Krishna Prasadan, Pier G. Mastroberardino, Chiyo Shiota, Ping Guo, Kelly A. Miller, David J. Hackam, R. Cartland Burns, Sidhartha S. Tulachan, George K. Gittes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The mammalian embryo represents a fundamental paradox in biology. Its location within the uterus, especially early during development when embryonic cardiovascular development and placental blood flow are not well-established, leads to an obligate hypoxic environment. Despite this hypoxia, the embryonic cells are able to undergo remarkable growth, morphogenesis, and differentiation. Recent evidence suggests that embryonic organ differentiation, including pancreatic β-cells, is tightly regulated by oxygen levels. Since a major determinant of oxygen tension in mammalian embryos after implantation is embryonic blood flow, here we used a novel survivable in utero intracardiac injection technique to deliver a vascular tracer to living mouse embryos. Once injected, the embryonic heart could be visualized to continue contracting normally, thereby distributing the tracer specifically only to those regions where embryonic blood was flowing. We found that the embryonic pancreas early in development shows a remarkable paucity of blood flow and that the presence of blood flow correlates with the differentiation state of the developing pancreatic epithelial cells in the region of the blood flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-349
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Beta cell
  • Blood flow
  • Endocrine
  • Pancreas development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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