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Am J Pathol. 2006 Feb;168(2):529-41.

Monocytes/macrophages cooperate with progenitor cells during neovascularization and tissue repair: conversion of cell columns into fibrovascular bundles.

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Department of Internal Medicine/Cardiology, Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


The potential of monocytes/macrophages (MC/Mph) to contribute to neovascularization has recently become a topic of intense scrutiny. Here, we characterized the behavior of MC/Mph in cellular infiltrates, with emphasis on their spatial organization and localization in newly formed microvessels. To this end, we studied MC/Mph migration and assembly in basic fibroblast growth factor-supplemented Matrigel plugs placed in transgenic Tie2-beta-galactosidase mice for up to 4 weeks. In these plugs, along with Nile Red-positive adipocytes, we found MC/Mph distributed in cell cords, also containing various mature and progenitor tissue cells; and functional Tie2-positive or -negative microvessels embedded in bundles of fibrillar collagen surrounded by F4/80-positive MC/Mph. At earlier stages of infiltration, we found tubular destruction of the matrix (tunnels) and MC/Mph-lined capillary-like structures occasionally containing erythrocytes, indicating their propensity for endothelial trans-differentiation. We also analyzed in vitro the MCP-1-induced chemotactic migration of fluorescently labeled peritoneal MC/Mph incorporated in Matrigel-containing fluorescent protease substrates. Many of these MC/Mph produced MMP-12- and TIMP-1-dependent tunnels coupled with acquisition of a lumen. In conclusion, long-term implantation of Matrigel plugs qualifies as a novel experimental model of tissue regeneration, in which neovascularization intimately couples with fibrosis and organogenesis and in which cells of MC/Mph phenotype play a key structural role.

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