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Mol Cell Biochem. 1997 Nov;176(1-2):53-9.

Coronary artery smooth muscle in culture: migration of heterogeneous cell populations from vessel wall.

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Department of Physiology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


A method for establishing primary cultures of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) from the porcine coronary artery without either microdissection and/or enzymatic dispersion was developed using selective migration of cells from coronary explants in vitro. This culture method relies on the heterogeneity of cell types and differences in their migration and adherence ability to separate SMC from contaminating fibroblasts or endothelial cells. The cell type was determined by immunohistochemical staining with monoclonal antibodies to SM alpha-actin, SM myosin, h-caldesmon and von Willebrand factor. The first wave of migration (1-7 days) consisted of a mixture of fibroblasts and SMCs. Only SMCs were present in the second wave of migration (7-14 days). Endothelial cells, which exhibited a lower capacity for migration and adherence, were restricted to the third wave of migration (14-21 days). Cells obtained from the second wave of migration exhibited the characteristic single-layered, aligned, hill-and-valley pattern of SMCs when confluent. Quiescence was attained 4-5 days after removal of serum, as established by [3H]-thymidine incorporation. Stimulation of the quiescent SMCs with 20% FBS resulted in a synchronous re-entry into the cell-cycle with S phase reached 15-18 h later. The SMCs prepared using this protocol thus exhibit the structural markers and capacity to undergo phenotypic modulation that are characteristic of SMCs in vivo. This approach to establishing primary cultures of SMCs offers the advantage of selecting for the subpopulation of cells capable of migration in response to injury or growth factor stimulation.

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