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J Hematother Stem Cell Res. 2002 Feb;11(1):81-90.

Endothelial cell heterogeneity and organ specificity.

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  • 1Department of Human Anatomy and Histology, University of Bari Medical School, Policlinico, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, I-70124 Bari, Italy.


Endothelial cells consist of a heterogeneous population covering the entire inner surface of blood vessels. This review will focus on the factors influencing this heterogeneity including: (1) morphological and functional differences between large and small vessels and between cells derived from various microvascular endothelial beds; (2) the microenvironment and extracellular matrix modulating the phenotype; (3) different response to growth factors; (4) organ specificity reflecting the cumulative expression of post-translation modifications and also the expression of unique genes under the control of organ-specific regulatory elements; and (5) pathological conditions, such as tumor growth, which is accompanied by the development of a characteristic tumor vasculature and tumors formed by endothelial cells.

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