Cellular mechanisms of CNS pericytes

Brain Res Bull. 2000 Mar 15;51(5):363-9. doi: 10.1016/s0361-9230(99)00260-9.


Three major functional roles have been ascribed to pericytes associated with central nervous system microvasculature-contractility, regulation o f endothelial cell activity, and macrophage activity. A host of different cell factors and signalling agents appear to be involved with these cellular functions, some effecting the pericyte and others produced by this cell. These include neuromodulators, vasoactive peptides, metabolic factors, growth factors and cytokines. The specific compounds and their actions are collectively viewed in an effort to provide an overall picture of the regulation of pericyte functional activity. This small vascular cell is emerging as a significant entity in several physiological processes through the functions of above; these processes include control of blood flow, regulation of vascular development and immune responses. Defining the regulatory agents and their mechanisms is key to understanding the role that pericytes play in these processes. Because these cells have begun to receive increasing attention in neurobiological studies, an overview of signalling properties should be timely and beneficial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / blood supply
  • Central Nervous System / cytology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Microcirculation
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiology
  • Pericytes / cytology
  • Pericytes / physiology*