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Hemangiomas are the most common tumor of infancy, and 80 percent of these tumors occur in the facial region. Interestingly, they are distributed in facial regions that correlate with the regions identified by neural crest migration. Further support for a role of neural crest cells in these tumors comes from the increasing identification of neurovascular syndromes like PHACE syndrome, where posterior fossa defects, large hemangiomas, arterial and cardiac abnormalities, and eye abnormalities all occur together. The migratory pathways of the neural crest and mesoderm link these complex abnormalities together.
In our laboratory, we are using a unique co-culture system to investigate the interaction of neural crest cells and endothelial cells, including evaluation of endothelial cells isolated from hemangiomas. Through this system we are working to:
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Proliferation of isolated cranial neural crest cells is increased more than twofold in the presence of endothelial cells.
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