Pericytes: Adaptable Vascular Progenitors

  • Gareth D. Hyde
  • Ann E. Canfield


Pericytes are traditionally defined as elongated cells with multiple processes which are embedded within a microvascular basement membrane in close apposition to endothelial cells. However, it is now realized that these cells have a more widespread distribution than originally thought as cells resembling pericytes have also been identified in larger arteries and veins. Pericytes play important roles in many physiological processes, including regulating blood flow, maintaining the structural integrity of vessel walls, and regulating endothelial cell proliferation and differentiation. However, this chapter will focus on one specific area of pericyte biology which is currently receiving considerable attention: the fact that these cells are adaptable progenitor cells. The evidence that pericytes closely resemble mesenchymal stromal/stem cells, both in terms of the markers they express and their potential to differentiate along many different lineages, will be discussed, as will our current understanding of the factors which regulate pericyte differentiation. Finally, recent studies showing the therapeutic potential of these cells for tissue repair and regeneration will be outlined.


Osteogenic Differentiation Dental Pulp Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Bone Morphogenetic Protein Signaling Perivascular Niche 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The financial support of the British Heart Foundation is gratefully acknow­ledged. We would also like to thank Dr. Carolyn Jones (University of Manchester) for providing the electron micrograph.


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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research & Cardiovascular Research Group, The Michael Smith Building, School of Biomedicine, Faculty of Medical & Human SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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