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secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor, development, sciatic nerve, artery, mouse
Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) has been studied in many models of injury, healing and infective processes, but whether it plays a role in development is not known. In a recent study of the sciatic nerve in SLPI null mutant (SLPI KO) mice, we observed a large aberrant blood vessel within the sciatic nerve and conducted a histological survey to characterize the morphology of this vessel. We first compared the gross morphology of the sciatic nerve in wild type and SLPI KO mice and attempted to identify the origin of the aberrant vessel. We then examined the cross-sectional morphology of the aberrant blood vessel in SLPI KO mice at several stages of postnatal development using histological staining and electron microscopy. We observed that the vessel is very prominent, being as large as or larger than the individual fascicles in the sciatic nerve and that the vessels are frequently found bilaterally in both sciatic nerves. We believe the vessel to be an artery due to the many similar characteristics it shares with an artery. In addition, the aberrant vessel is present as early as post-natal day 1 and at all ages surveyed in SLPI KO mice, which suggests that SLPI may play a role in the development of blood vessels. This work may have implications for the study of angiogenesis in cancer, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, and the revascularization of tissue after injury.