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EXS. 2005;(94):115-25.

Role of pericytes in vascular morphogenesis.

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Laboratory of Vascular Biology, Division of Matrix Biology, House A3, Plan 4, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Scheels vag 2, Karolinska Institutet, 17177 Stockholm, Sweden.


Pericytes are solitary, smooth muscle-like mural cells that invest the wall of microvessels. For a long time, the functional significance of the presence and distribution of pericytes in the microvasculature was unclear. However, in recent years, the application of experimental genetics to the PDGF-B/PDGFRbeta signaling pathway in mice has provided a range of mutants with primary defects in pericytes, allowing for studies of the physiological consequences of pericyte deficiency in developmental angiogenesis and adult physiology. Interestingly, some of the phenotypic consequences of these mutations resemble human diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy. The studies have also led to the discovery of critical mechanisms involved in pericyte recruitment and differentiation. The present review focuses on genetic data suggesting that pericytes take active part in developmental angiogenic processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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