VEGF coordinates interaction of pericytes and endothelial cells during vasculogenesis and experimental angiogenesis

Dev Dyn. 2004 May;230(1):23-33. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.20020.


Biological activities of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) have been studied extensively in endothelial cells (ECs), but few data are available regarding its effects on pericytes. In murine embryoid body cultures, VEGF-induced expression of desmin and alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA) in CD-31+ cells. The number of CD-31+/desmin+ vascular chords increased with VEGF treatment time and peaked during a differentiation window between 6 and 9 days after plating. In vivo, VEGF-induced elongation and migration of desmin-positive pericytes and coverage of angiogenic capillaries, as revealed by analysis of Sambucus nigra lectin-stained vascular beds of the chick chorioallantoic membrane. VEGF also caused significant decrease of intercapillary spaces, an indicator for intussusceptive vascular growth. These VEGF-mediated effects point at a more intricate interaction between ECs and pericytes cells than previously demonstrated and suggest that pericytes may be derived from EC progenitors in vitro and not only stabilize capillaries but also participate in vascular remodeling in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capillaries / metabolism
  • Capillaries / ultrastructure
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Chick Embryo
  • Desmin / biosynthesis
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Microcirculation
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic*
  • Pericytes / chemistry
  • Pericytes / metabolism*
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / biosynthesis*
  • Time Factors
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism*


  • Desmin
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A