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Cell Tissue Res. 1992 Dec;270(3):469-74.

Pericyte involvement in capillary sprouting during angiogenesis in situ.

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Anatomisches Institut der Universit├Ąt, W├╝rzburg, Germany.


To investigate the participation of microvascular pericytes in the process of capillary sprouting, we examined whole-mount preparations of the rat mesentery by use of a double immunofluorescence approach. Angiogenesis was induced by intraperitoneal injections of either the mast cell-degranulating substance compound 48/80 or tumor cell-conditioned medium. Capillary sprouts were visualized by staining with rhodamine-conjugated phalloidin and pericytes were simultaneously stained by an antibody to the intermediate filament protein desmin. Developing pericytes were negative for the smooth-muscle isoform of alpha-actin, but were clearly reactive for desmin. Pericytes appear to be involved in the earliest stages of capillary sprouting. Pericytes were regularly found lying at and in front of the advancing tips of endothelial sprouts. At many sites pericytes were seen to bridge the gap between the leading edges of opposing endothelial sprouts, which were apparently preparing to merge, suggesting that pericytic processes may serve as guiding structures aiding outgrowth of endothelial cells.

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