The vascular origin of hematopoietic cells

Luigi Adamo, Guillermo García-Cardeña

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


More than a century ago, several embryologists described sites of hematopoietic activity in the vascular wall of mid-gestation vertebrate embryos, and postulated the transient existence of a blood generating endothelium during ontogeny. This hypothesis gained significant attention in the 1970s when orthotopic transplantation experiments between quail and chick embryos revealed specific vascular areas as the site of the origin of definitive hematopoiesis. However, the vascular origin of hematopoietic precursors remained elusive and controversial for decades. Only recently, multiple experimental approaches have clearly documented that during vertebrate development definitive hematopoietic precursors arise from a subset of vascular endothelial cells. Interestingly, this differentiation is promoted by the intravascular fluid mechanical forces generated by the establishment of blood flow upon the initiation of heartbeat, and it is therefore connected with cardiovascular development in several critical aspects. In this review we present our current understanding of the relationship between vascular and definitive hematopoietic development through an historical analysis of the scientific evidence produced in this area of investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aorta-Gonad-Mesonephros (AGM)
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Hemogenic endothelium
  • Para-Aortic-Splanchnopleura (PSp)
  • Shear stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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