Now in our 13th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Search the archive of over 4000 images

Down the Tubes

Discovering the role of blood morphogenetic proteins in regulating the cells lining blood vessels

03 February 2020

Down the Tubes

Your body contains thousands of miles of blood vessels, most of them tiny capillaries just fractions of a millimetre in diameter, which have to be kept in tip-top conditions in order to keep the red stuff flowing properly. The job of building and maintaining blood vessels falls to endothelial cells, shown here growing in circular patterns in plastic dishes in the lab. These specialised cells are normally found lining the blood vessels, where they’re controlled by a chemical signal known as BMP. The cells on the left are healthy and form a tidy layer, similar to the way they would grow in a normal blood vessel. But the disrupted cells on the right have been genetically engineered so they no longer respond to BMP signals. This discovery helps to explain why people with similar genetic changes have cardiovascular problems such as abnormally high blood pressure or leaky, malformed blood vessels.

Written by Kat Arney

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

Follow on Tumblr

Follow on Instagram

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.