Neovascularization is the natural formation of new blood vessels (neo- + vascular + -ization), usually in the form of functional microvascular networks, capable of perfusion by red blood cells, that form to serve as collateral circulation in response to local poor perfusion or ischemia. Neovascularization is conventionally distinguished from angiogenesis in that angiogenesis is mainly characterized by the protrusion and outgrowth of capillary buds and sprouts from pre-existing blood vessels. Vasculogenesis can be synonymous with neovascularization but also often has reference instead to prenatal development and the initial embryologic formation of blood vessels. Growth factors that inhibit neovascularization include those that affect endothelial cell division and differentiation. These growth factors often act in a paracrine or autocrine fashion; they include fibroblast growth factor, placental growth factor, insulin-like growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor, and platelet-derived endothelial growth factor.
In ophthalmology, choroidal neovascularization is the formation of a microvasculature within the innermost layer of the choroid of the eye. Neovascularization in the eye can cause a type of glaucoma (neovascularization glaucoma) if the new blood vessels' bulk blocks the constant outflow of aqueous humour from inside the eye.