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Am J Pathol. 1990 Jun;136(6):1393-405.

Expression of the high molecular weight melanoma-associated antigen by pericytes during angiogenesis in tumors and in healing wounds.

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Department of Pathology, University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


In the course of immunohistochemical characterization of murine monoclonal antibodies recognizing the human high molecular weight-melanoma associated antigen (HMW-MAA), a striking reactivity with blood vessels in the tumor stroma was noted. Immunocytochemical analysis by light and electronmicroscopy of a panel of tissues and cell lines showed that the staining of microvessels by anti-HMW-MAA monoclonal antibodies was restricted to pericytes. Correspondingly, anti-HMW-MAA monoclonal antibodies were found to react with cultured pericytes from human brain, but not with endothelial cells in serologic assays, and to immunoprecipitate from biosynthetically labeled pericytes an antigen with the characteristic structural profile of HMW-MAA. At the subcellular level, the expression of HMW-MAA in cultured pericytes was mainly restricted to microspikes that are localized in clusters on the cellular membrane. Staining by anti-HMW-MAA monoclonal antibodies of pericytes was not only found in the tumor stroma, but also in other lesions associated with angiogenesis, such as granulation tissue of wound healing and synovitis. In these lesions, microvascular staining for another marker of pericytes, ie, alpha-smooth muscle actin, also was observed. These results suggest that, in conditions associated with vascular proliferation, 1) pericytes acquire HMW-MAA and 2) the number of pericytes may be increased as compared with normal tissues.

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