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Vasculogenesis is the process of blood vessel formation in the embryo, occurring by a de novo production of endothelial cells. It is sometimes paired with angiogenesis, as the first stage of the formation of the vascular network, closely followed by angiogenesis.
In the sense distinguished from angiogenesis, vasculogenesis is different in one aspect: whereas angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, vasculogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels, in blood islands, when there are no pre-existing ones. For example, if a monolayer of endothelial cells begins sprouting to form capillaries, angiogenesis is occurring. Vasculogenesis, in contrast, is when endothelial precursor cells (angioblasts) migrate and differentiate in response to local cues (such as growth factors and extracellular matrices) to form new blood vessels. These vascular trees are then pruned and extended through angiogenesis.
Vasculogenesis can also occur in the adult organism from circulating endothelial progenitor cells (derivatives of stem cells) able to contribute, albeit to varying degrees, to neovascularization. Examples of where vasculogenesis can occur in adults are:
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