A Chick Embryo Chorioallantoic Membrane Assay of AFPep as a Proangiogenic Factor

Katheryn Dorsey
Department of Biology, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York

Abstract of Proposal

Human alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is an oncodevelopmental protein produced by the fetal yolk sac and liver during gestation and expressed by certain malignant tumors in the adult. AFP exerts diverse growth-regulative and immunosuppressive effects. Specifically, its expression is associated with increased vascularization in the developing fetus and in adult tumors, implying a role in the developmental processes of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. To investigate the angiogenic effects of AFP on microvascular endothelial cells in vivo, I will employ a chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay. This will involve exposure of he CAMs of avian embryos to AFP, and subsequent observation of the extraembryonic membranes in ovo, using the technique of windowing. Blood vessel density and tortuosity will be photographed and evaluated using microscopic tools and software. It might also be useful to study the synergetic proangiogenic effect of AFP and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) by applying both proteins to the CAM in varying concentrations. The ultimate significance of this experiment will be a better understanding of the angiogenic activity of AFP, which has implications in medicine, as blood vessel growth is required not only for normal fetal development, but also for the proliferation and metastasis of tumors.


A Thermanox plastic cover slip lies on the chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) of a 13-day chick embryo after 3 days in place. It delivered AFPep, (experimental), VEGF (positive control), or sterile water (vehicle/negative control) to the blood vessels of the CAM.

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Last Modified: 29 March 2005