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Microvasc Res. 2002 Jul;64(1):47-55.

Focal adhesion molecules expression and fibrillin deposition by lymphatic and blood vessel endothelial cells in culture.

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Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Sezione di Medicina Molecolare, University of Siena, Via Aldo Moro, 53100 Siena, Italy.


The microfibrils of anchoring filaments, a typical ultrastructural feature of initial lymphatic vessels, consist mainly of fibrillin and are similar to the microfibrils of elastic fibers. As we previously demonstrated, they radiate from focal adhesions of lymphatic endothelium to the perivascular elastic network. Although present in large blood vessels, fibrillin microfibrils have never been detected in blood capillaries. Here we report immunohistochemical evidence that cultured bovine aortic and lymphatic endothelial cells express fibrillin microfibrils. These microfibrils form an irregular web in lymphatic endothelial cells, whereas in blood vessel endothelial cells they are arranged in a honeycomb pattern. Cultured lymphatic and blood vessel endothelial cells also produce focal adhesion molecules: focal adhesion kinase, vinculin, talin, and cytoskeletal beta-actin. Our data suggest that anchoring filaments of initial lymphatic vessels in vivo may be produced by endothelium. Through their connection with focal adhesions, they may form a mechanical anchorage for the thin wall of initial lymphatic vessels and a transduction device for mechanical signals from the extracellular matrix into biochemical signals in endothelial cells. The complex anchoring filaments-focal adhesions may control the permeability of lymphatic endothelium and finely adjust lymph formation to the physiological conditions of the extracellular matrix. The different deposition of fibrillin microfibrils in blood vessel endothelial cells may be related to the necessity of withstanding shear forces. Thus, in our opinion, differences in fibrillin deposition imply a different role of fibrillin in blood vessel and lymphatic endothelium.

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