Neuron-to-vessel signaling is a required feature of aberrant stem cell commitment after soft tissue trauma

Qizhi Qin, Mario Gomez-Salazar, Masnsen Cherief, Chase A. Pagani, Seungyong Lee, Charles Hwang, Robert J. Tower, Sharon Onggo, Yuxiao Sun, Abhinav Piplani, Zhao Li, Sowmya Ramesh, Thomas L. Clemens, Benjamin Levi*, Aaron W. James*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The functional interdependence of nerves and blood vessels is a well-established concept during tissue morphogenesis, yet the role of neurovascular coupling in proper and aberrant tissue repair is an emerging field of interest. Here, we sought to define the regulatory relationship of peripheral nerves on vasculature in a severe extremity trauma model in mice, which results in aberrant cell fate and heterotopic ossification (HO). First, a high spatial degree of neurovascular congruency was observed to exist within extremity injury associated heterotopic ossification. Vascular and perivascular cells demonstrate characteristic responses to injury, as assessed by single cell RNA sequencing. This vascular response to injury was blunted in neurectomized mice, including a decrease in endothelial proliferation and type H vessel formation, and a downregulation of key transcriptional networks associated with angiogenesis. Independent mechanisms to chemically or genetically inhibit axonal ingrowth led to similar deficits in HO site angiogenesis, a reduction in type H vessels, and heterotopic bone formation. Finally, a combination of single cell transcriptomic approaches within the dorsal root ganglia identified key neural-derived angiogenic paracrine factors that may mediate neuron-to-vascular signaling in HO. These data provide further understanding of nerve-to-vessel crosstalk in traumatized soft tissues, which may reflect a key determinant of mesenchymal progenitor cell fate after injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalBone Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


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