The chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) is one of the most vascularized tissues in the chicken embryo. Capillary growth proceeds until day 10 of development and thereafter abruptly regresses. As it is generally accepted that the formation of new blood vessel is regulated by growth factors, we have investigated the presence of angiogenic and mitogenic factors in the chicken chorioallantois. In the present study, we show that chorioallantoic fluid (CAF) contains angiogenic substances that are probably synthesized in the CAM or the embryonic kidney. When applied in the chorioallantoic membrane assay, CAF from 9 day chicken embryos elicits a strong angiogenic response. This angiogenic activity of CAF is associated with pronounced mitogenic effects in vitro. Comparison of different embryonic fluids reveals that mitogenic activity is particularly evident in the CAF but not detectable in embryonic serum and amnion fluid. Expression of mitogenic activity is found to be temporally correlated with vascular growth in the CAM. High activity is detected in CAF prior to day 10 and then sharply decreases, thus preceding termination of capillary growth by one day. Heparin-sepharose affinity chromatography suggests that the biological activities of CAF probably correspond to the presence of acidic and basic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF and bFGF). In Western blot analyses of CAF, an immunoreactive bFGF-like protein of about 17 × 10(3) Mr is recognized by a monospecific anti-bFGF antiserum. This protein elutes at 2.4 M NaCl from the heparin-sepharose. The mitogenic activity of the CAF can be specifically blocked by the anti-bFGF antibody indicating bFGF to be the active mitogenic principle of the CAF. These results strongly suggest that basic and probably acidic FGF play an important role in the regulation of chorioallantoic vascular growth.

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