Prof. Christiana Ruhrberg

Research Lead

Professor Christiana Ruhrberg

Contact us

UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
11-43 Bath Street
London EC1V 9EL
Tel +44 (0)207 608 4017 (office)
Tel +44 (0)20 7608 6972 (lab)

Microvascular Development and Vascular Permeability

Microvascular Development and Vascular Permeability - AngioGenesis- the creation of blood vessels


Our laboratory studies how growing blood vessels integrate into their host organs without disrupting the organisation and function of other cell types. To achieve this goal, we combine reverse genetics and tissue culture models to define the precise role of signalling pathways implicated in vascular growth and patterning, with particular emphasis on the isoforms of the main vascular growth factor VEGF and their receptors. In complementary approaches, we investigate the role of VEGF signalling in developing neurons and vascular pathologies of the nervous system.

Key research activities

Role of VEGF and its Receptors in Angiogenesis and Vascular Permeability

VEGF is essential for angiogenesis in development and neoangiogenesis in ischemic pathologies. In adults, it additionally regulates vascular permeability. Our previous research revealed that the differential matrix affinity of VEGF isoforms promotes the formation of chemotactic gradients that guide sprouting vessels to sites of VEGF expression. Current research in the lab seeks to define the signalling pathways that distinguish angiogenic from permeability signalling pathways to open up new avenues for targeted vascular therapies. 

Role of VEGF and Semaphorins in Neuronal Migration, Survival and Axon Guidance

The transmembrane receptor NRP1 binds both class 3 semaphorins and the VEGF164 isoform of VEGF. We previously reported that semaphorin signalling through NRP1 is dispensable for vascular development, but that VEGF164 signalling through NRP1 regulates neuronal migration, survival and commissural axon guidance and cooperates with neural semaphorin signalling to orchestrate the formation of specific neuronal systems. Current research seeks to define the signalling pathways that convey VEGF164/NRP1 signals in neurons and their progenitors. 

Role of Myeloid Cells and Tissue Macrophages in Angiogenesis

We previously showed that VEGF-mediated vessel sprouting synergises with macrophage-promoted sprout fusion to build precisely patterned vessel networks. Current research in the lab seeks to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of macrophage-endothelial cell interactions and the contribution of myeloid cell populations to neoangiogenesis and VEGF-mediated vascular permeability.