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Electron-microscopic studies on reaggregate cultures of vascular smooth muscle cells from normotensive and spontaneously hypertensive rats

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Summary

Vascular smooth muscle cells were taken from the aortae of the WKY (normotensive) and SHR (spontaneously hypertensive) strains of rat by enzymatic dispersion and put into reaggregate culture. Initially the cells became individual spheroids having average diameters of 10 μm and surfaces that were either rough or smooth. The cells were far more complex than they appeared on their surfaces; after one day in culture, there was considerable internal variation in these cells. All the cells, whether WKY or SHR, lost the bulk of their cytoplasmic contents (including myofilaments, many mitochondria, and vesicular structures) in the early stages of culture and eventually became flattened. After 14 days in culture, these modified cells collected to form reaggregates that were commonly roughly spherical and several hundred μm in diameter. These reaggregates consisted of peripheral regions made up of several layers of flattened cells overlying cores formed by glia-like networks of cells similar in cytological appearance to the cells at the periphery. The meshes formed in this way contained cellular debris derived from dead cells or extrusion of cellular contents. It appears that SHR cells are quicker to form reaggregates than are WKY cells. Yet the SHR cells retained a rounded conformation after five days, whereas the WKY cells were more flattened and formed a more discrete aggregate at this stage of culture. However, by the fourteenth day of culture, differences between the two cell strains were not so pronounced, as far as could be judged by observations made with scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Both WKY and SHR cells at 14 days appeared highly secretory, possessing large Golgi systems as well as numerous ER cisternae and mitochondria. SHR cells produced greater amounts of connective tissue at all stages of culture than did WKY cells, indicating that a similar difference may contribute to the hypertension which develops naturally in situ in SHR animals.

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Correspondence to M. S. Forbes Ph.D..

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Yoneda, S., Forbes, M.S., Zelcer, E. et al. Electron-microscopic studies on reaggregate cultures of vascular smooth muscle cells from normotensive and spontaneously hypertensive rats. Cell Tissue Res. 217, 225–243 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00233577

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Key words

  • Vascular smooth muscle
  • Spontaneously hypertensive rat
  • Reaggregate cultures
  • Ultrastructure
  • Collagen synthesis