1. The neuronal system plays a fundamental role in the maturation of primitive embryonic vascular network by providing a paracrine template for blood vessel branching and arterial differentiation. Furthermore, postnatal vascular and neural regeneration cooperate in the healing of damaged tissue. 2. Neurogenesis continues in adulthood although confined to specific brain regions. Following ischaemic insult, neural staminal cells contribute towards the healing process through the stimulation of neurogenesis and vasculogenesis. 3. Evidence indicates that nerves and blood vessels exert a reciprocal control of their own growth by paracrine mechanisms. For instance, guidance factors, including vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and semaphorins, which share the ability of binding neuropilin receptors, play a pivotal role in the tridimensional growth pattern of arterial vessels and nerves. 4. Animal models and clinical studies have demonstrated a role of VEGF-A in the pathogenesis of ischaemic and diabetic neuropathies. Further, supplementation with VEGF-A ameliorates neuronal recovery by exerting protective effects on nerves and stimulating reparative neovascularization. Human tissue kallikrein, a recently discovered angiogenic and arteriogenic factor, accelerates neuronal recovery by stimulating the growth of vasa nervorum. 5. Conversely, the neurotrophin nerve growth factor, known to regulate neuronal survival and differentiation, is now regarded as a stimulator of angiogenesis and arteriogenesis. 6. These results indicate that angiogenesis and neurogenesis are paracrinally regulated by growth factors released by endothelial cells and neurons. Supplementation of these growth factors, alone or in combination, could benefit the treatment of ischaemic diseases and neuropathies.
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