Pericytes are perivascular cells that can be distinguished from vascular smooth muscle cells by their specific morphology and expression of distinct molecular markers. Found in the microvascular beds distributed throughout the body, they are well known for their regulation of a healthy vasculature. In this review, we examine the mechanism of pericyte support to vasomotion, and the known pathways that regulate pericyte response in angiogenesis and neovascular stabilization. We will also discuss the role of pericytes in vascular basement membrane and endothelial barrier function regulation. In contrast, recent findings have indicated that pericyte dysfunction, characterized by changes in pericyte contractility or pericyte loss of microvascular coverage, plays an important role in onset and progression of vascular-related and fibrogenic diseases. From a therapeutic point of view, pericytes have recently been identified as a putative pool of endogenous mesenchymal stem cells that could be activated in response to tissue injury to contribute to the regenerative process on multiple levels. Wewill discuss the mechanisms viawhich pericytes are involved in disease onset and development in a number of pathophysiological conditions, as well as present the evidence that supports a role for multipotent pericytes in tissue regeneration. The emerging field of pericyte research will not only contribute to the identification of new drug targets in pericyte dysfunction associated diseases, but may also boost the use of this cell type in future cell-based regenerative strategies.

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International Journal of Cardiology
Department of Cardiology

Van Dijk, C. G. M., Nieuweboer, F. E., Pei, J. Y., Xu, Y. J., Bürgisser, P., van Mulligen, E., … Cheng, C. (2015). The complex mural cell: Pericyte function in health and disease. International Journal of Cardiology (Vol. 190, pp. 75–89). doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2015.03.258