Perivascular Macrophages Limit Permeability

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2016 Nov;36(11):2203-2212. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.116.307592. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


Objective: Perivascular cells, including pericytes, macrophages, smooth muscle cells, and other specialized cell types, like podocytes, participate in various aspects of vascular function. However, aside from the well-established roles of smooth muscle cells and pericytes, the contributions of other vascular-associated cells are poorly understood. Our goal was to ascertain the function of perivascular macrophages in adult tissues under nonpathological conditions.

Approach and results: We combined confocal microscopy, in vivo cell depletion, and in vitro assays to investigate the contribution of perivascular macrophages to vascular function. We found that resident perivascular macrophages are associated with capillaries at a frequency similar to that of pericytes. Macrophage depletion using either clodronate liposomes or antibodies unexpectedly resulted in hyperpermeability. This effect could be rescued when M2-like macrophages, but not M1-like macrophages or dendritic cells, were reconstituted in vivo, suggesting subtype-specific roles for macrophages in the regulation of vascular permeability. Furthermore, we found that permeability-promoting agents elicit motility and eventual dissociation of macrophages from the vasculature. Finally, in vitro assays showed that M2-like macrophages attenuate the phosphorylation of VE-cadherin upon exposure to permeability-promoting agents.

Conclusions: This study points to a direct contribution of macrophages to vessel barrier integrity and provides evidence that heterotypic cell interactions with the endothelium, in addition to those of pericytes, control vascular permeability.

Keywords: capillaries; capillary permeability; cell communication; endothelial cells; macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Capillaries / metabolism*
  • Capillary Permeability*
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Dextrans / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism*
  • Mesentery / blood supply*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Ovalbumin / metabolism
  • Peritoneum / blood supply*
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphorylation
  • Rhodamines / metabolism
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • Time Factors
  • Transfection


  • Antigens, CD
  • Cadherins
  • Dextrans
  • Rhodamines
  • cadherin 5
  • tetramethylrhodamine isothiocyanate
  • Ovalbumin
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate