Pericytes, the mural cells of blood microvessels, have recently come into focus as regulators of vascular morphogenesis and function during development, cardiovascular homeostasis, and disease. Pericytes are implicated in the development of diabetic retinopathy and tissue fibrosis, and they are potential stromal targets for cancer therapy. Some pericytes are probably mesenchymal stem or progenitor cells, which give rise to adipocytes, cartilage, bone, and muscle. However, there is still confusion about the identity, ontogeny, and progeny of pericytes. Here, we review the history of these investigations, indicate emerging concepts, and point out problems and promise in the field of pericyte biology.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.