Biology (B.S.B.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Vinoth Sittaramane


Vascular diseases are one of the leading causes of mortality in the United States and the world. Of particular importance is the cerebrovascular disease, which is primarily associated with senility. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that cerebrovascular disease contributed to 5.5 million deaths globally (or 9.6% of all deaths) in 2001. Cerebrovascular disease is characterized by thinning of cerebral blood vessel endothelia, which could lead to internal hemorrhaging, ischemia, stroke, and death. While the pathophysiology of the disease is well studied, the molecular signaling underlying the disease is largely unknown. Recently, human Integrin alpha 6 (ITGA6), a cell adhesion molecule, has been linked to cerebrovascular diseases, especially intracerebral hemorrhage. However, the role of ITGA6 in vascular development is not clear. Therefore, we investigated the developmental contributions of itga6 by using zebrafish as a model system. Our results indicate that itga6 is required for hindbrain neurovascular development. Deficiency of itga6 results in overall widening of the blood vessels, a decrease in the number of hindbrain arterial branches, and an increase in protrusions from blood vessels. These vascular deformities also induced neurovascular hemorrhaging. Taken together, our results have identified a molecular mechanism through which itga6 may be regulating neurovascular development.