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Pericytes in Microvessels: From “Mural” Function to Brain and Retina Regeneration

1
Department of Physiology & Biomedical Engineering, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA
2
Section of Medical Biochemistry, Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy
3
Section of General and Clinical Pathology and Oncology, Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy
4
Section of Haematology, Department of General Surgery and Medical-Surgical Specialties, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy
5
Section of Microbiology, Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(24), 6351; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20246351
Received: 31 October 2019 / Revised: 13 December 2019 / Accepted: 14 December 2019 / Published: 17 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Vessel Disease: A Whole Brain Disease)
Pericytes are branched cells located in the wall of capillary blood vessels that are found throughout the body, embedded within the microvascular basement membrane and wrapping endothelial cells, with which they establish a strong physical contact. Pericytes regulate angiogenesis, vessel stabilization, and contribute to the formation of both the blood-brain and blood-retina barriers by Angiopoietin-1/Tie-2, platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) and transforming growth factor (TGF) signaling pathways, regulating pericyte-endothelial cell communication. Human pericytes that have been cultured for a long period give rise to multilineage progenitor cells and exhibit mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) features. We focused our attention on the roles of pericytes in brain and ocular diseases. In particular, pericyte involvement in brain ischemia, brain tumors, diabetic retinopathy, and uveal melanoma is described. Several molecules, such as adenosine and nitric oxide, are responsible for pericyte shrinkage during ischemia-reperfusion. Anti-inflammatory molecules, such as IL-10, TGFβ, and MHC-II, which are increased in glioblastoma-activated pericytes, are responsible for tumor growth. As regards the eye, pericytes play a role not only in ocular vessel stabilization, but also as a stem cell niche that contributes to regenerative processes in diabetic retinopathy. Moreover, pericytes participate in melanoma cell extravasation and the genetic ablation of the PDGF receptor reduces the number of pericytes and aberrant tumor microvessel formation with important implications for therapy efficacy. Thanks to their MSC features, pericytes could be considered excellent candidates to promote nervous tissue repair and for regenerative medicine. View Full-Text
Keywords: Pericytes; microvessels; MSC features; brain and retina repair; stroke; brain tumor; diabetic retinopathy; ocular diseases Pericytes; microvessels; MSC features; brain and retina repair; stroke; brain tumor; diabetic retinopathy; ocular diseases
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Caporarello, N.; D’Angeli, F.; Cambria, M.T.; Candido, S.; Giallongo, C.; Salmeri, M.; Lombardo, C.; Longo, A.; Giurdanella, G.; Anfuso, C.D.; Lupo, G. Pericytes in Microvessels: From “Mural” Function to Brain and Retina Regeneration. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 6351.

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