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Cardiovasc Res. 2001 Dec;52(3):372-86.

Adhesion receptors of vascular smooth muscle cells and their functions.

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Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of Leicester, Clinical Sciences Wing, Glenfield General Hospital, LE3 9QP, Leicester, UK.


Vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) are present in several phenotypic states in blood vessels. They show a high degree of plasticity, undergoing rapid and reversible phenotypic changes in response to environmental stresses and vascular injury. Thereby, SMCs play an important role in development of atherosclerosis and restenosis after angioplasty and coronary bypass grafting. Many functions of SMCs, such as adhesion, migration, proliferation, contraction, differentiation and apoptosis are determined by surface adhesion receptors involved in cell-cell binding and interactions between cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Some cell adhesion receptors are involved in intracellular signalling and participate in cellular response to different stimuli. The adhesion receptors of vascular SMCs discussed here include the ECM adhesion receptors integrins, alpha-dystroglycan and syndecans, as well as the cell-cell adhesion receptors cadherins and cell adhesion molecules. This review is intended to provide a generalised overview of the receptors expressed in vascular SMCs in relation to their functions and implications for vascular pathology.

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