Modulation of extracellular matrix biosynthesis by bovine retinal pericytes in vitro: effects of the substratum and cell density

A E Canfield, T D Allen, M E Grant, S L Schor, A M Schor

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    44 Citations (Scopus)


    Bovine retinal pericytes plated on a two-dimensional substratum display a characteristic stellate morphology. In post-confluent cultures these cells aggregate spontaneously to form multicellular nodules. The same cells plated within a three-dimensional collagen matrix display an elongated sprouting morphology. Sprouting pericytes may be embedded within a gel either as individual cells or as multicellular aggregates. We have compared the nature of the matrix proteins synthesised by pericytes displaying these different phenotypes. Stellate pericytes cultured on plastic dishes synthesised predominantly type I collagen, some type III collagen and only traces of type IV collagen. The same collagen types were secreted when nodules had formed in postconfluent cultures on plastic, and by sprouting cells plated as single cells within the collagen gel. By contrast, sprouting pericytes plated as aggregates within the collagen gel secreted increased levels of type IV collagen and reduced amounts of type I collagen. Fibronectin was synthesized by pericytes under all experimental conditions examined; thrombospondin was produced in relatively large amounts by cells grown on plastic dishes, whereas only trace amounts could be detected in the medium when the cells were cultured within a collagen gel matrix. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that pericyte aggregates within a collagen gel contained cells in close apposition surrounded by a dense extracellular matrix. In contrast, cells in the centre of a nodule on plastic appeared to be separated from each other by loose extracellular material. These results suggest that the morphological and biosynthetic phenotypes of retinal pericytes are modulated by cell-matrix and/or cell-cell interactions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)159-69
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Cell Science
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - May 1990


    • Animals
    • Cattle
    • Cell Communication/physiology
    • Collagen/biosynthesis
    • Extracellular Matrix/metabolism
    • In Vitro Techniques
    • Membrane Glycoproteins/biosynthesis
    • Microcirculation/cytology
    • Microscopy, Electron
    • Plastics
    • Retinal Vessels/cytology
    • Thrombospondins


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