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In Vitro Cell Dev Biol. 1992 Jul-Aug;28A(7-8):521-8.

An in vitro model for cell-cell interactions.

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Laboratory for Surgical Research, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.


Heterotypic cell-cell interactions appear to be involved in the control of development and function in a wide variety of tissues. In the vasculature, endothelial cells and mural cells (smooth muscle cells or pericytes) make frequent contacts, suggesting a role for intercellular interactions in the regulation of vascular growth and function. We have previously grown endothelial cells and mural cells together in mixed cultures and found that heterocellular contact led to endothelial growth inhibition. However, this mixed culture system does not lend itself to the examination of the effects of contact on the phenotype of the individual cell types. We have therefore developed a co-culture system in which cells can be co-cultured across a porous membrane, permitting intercellular contact while maintaining pure cell populations. Co-culture of endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells across membranes with pore sizes of 0.02, 0.4, 0.6, and 0.8 microns maintained the two cell types as homogeneous populations, whereas smooth muscle cells migrated across the membrane through pores of 2.0 microns. Vascular cell co-culture across membranes with 0.8-microns pores resulted in the inhibition of endothelial cell proliferation and the generation of conditioned media which inhibited endothelial cell growth The arrangement of the cells in this co-culture system mimics the in vivo orientation of vascular cells in which mural cells are separated from the abluminal surface of the endothelium by a fenestrated internal elastic lamina or basement membrane. Because this co-culture system maintains separable populations of cells in contact or close proximity allowing for biochemical and molecular analyses of pure populations, it should prove useful for the study of cell-cell interactions in a variety of systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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