Background: Pericytes surround endothelial cells at the perivascular interface. Signaling between endothelial cells and pericytes is crucial for capillary homeostasis, as pericytes stabilize vessels and regulate many microvascular functions. Recently it has been shown that pericytes are able to detach from the vascular wall and contribute to fibrosis by becoming scar-forming myofibroblasts in many organs including the kidney. At the same time, the loss of pericytes within the perivascular compartment results in vulnerable capillaries which are prone to instability, pathological angiogenesis, and, ultimately, rarefaction.
Aims: This review will give an overview of pericyte-endothelial cell interactions, summarize the signaling pathways that have been identified to be involved in pericyte detachment from the vascular wall, and present pathological endothelial responses in the context of disease of the kidney.
© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.