Peripheral nerve pericytes modify the blood-nerve barrier function and tight junctional molecules through the secretion of various soluble factors

J Cell Physiol. 2011 Jan;226(1):255-66. doi: 10.1002/jcp.22337.


The objectives of this study were to establish pure blood-nerve barrier (BNB) and blood-brain barrier (BBB)-derived pericyte cell lines of human origin and to investigate their unique properties as barrier-forming cells. Brain and peripheral nerve pericyte cell lines were established via transfection with retrovirus vectors incorporating human temperature-sensitive SV40 T antigen (tsA58) and telomerase. These cell lines expressed several pericyte markers such as α-smooth muscle actin, NG2, platelet-derived growth factor receptor β, whereas they did not express endothelial cell markers such as vWF and PECAM. In addition, the inulin clearance was significantly lowered in peripheral nerve microvascular endothelial cells (PnMECs) through the up-regulation of claudin-5 by soluble factors released from brain or peripheral nerve pericytes. In particular, bFGF secreted from peripheral nerve pericytes strengthened the barrier function of the BNB by increasing the expression of claudin-5. Peripheral nerve pericytes may regulate the barrier function of the BNB, because the BNB does not contain cells equivalent to astrocytes which regulate the BBB function. Furthermore, these cell lines expressed several neurotrophic factors such as NGF, BDNF, and GDNF. The secretion of these growth factors from peripheral nerve pericytes might facilitate axonal regeneration in peripheral neuropathy. Investigation of the characteristics of peripheral nerve pericytes may provide novel strategies for modifying BNB functions and promoting peripheral nerve regeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / cytology*
  • Blood-Nerve Barrier / cytology*
  • Brain / cytology
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / genetics
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Pericytes / metabolism*
  • Peripheral Nerves / cytology
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Growth Factors