Cytoskeletal features of immature pulmonary vascular smooth muscle cells: the influence of pulmonary hypertension on normal development

J Pathol. 1989 Aug;158(4):311-7. doi: 10.1002/path.1711580408.


Using an immunohistochemical technique, the development of the cytoskeletal proteins desmin, vimentin, and actin (using alpha isotype and non-isotype specific antibodies) was assessed using a semi-quantitative grading system in the pulmonary vascular smooth muscle of nine normal pigs and 19 normal humans at different ages, and in 13 children with pulmonary hypertensive congenital heart disease. In the normal of both species, immunostaining for vimentin decreased after birth and then increased gradually while immunostaining for desmin and alpha actin increased steadily with age. In pulmonary hypertension, immunostaining for alpha actin and vimentin showed an accelerated increase at between 2 and 8 months. Also, the media showed regional differences in immunostaining which preceded the development of intimal proliferation. The inner media showed less immunoreactivity for all cytoskeletal proteins studied than did the outer media. Within areas of intimal proliferation many cells were immunonegative. These results suggest that the cytoskeletal features of medial smooth muscle cells are remodelled in the normal infant; that this process is altered from at least 2 months in the pulmonary hypertensive infant; and that the smooth muscle cells immediately beneath the internal elastic lamina are remodelled before migrating to form intimal proliferation. Changes in cytoskeletal composition can be related to the previously described postnatal maturation of pulmonary vascular smooth muscle cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / analysis
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure*
  • Desmin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Muscle Development
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / analysis
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / growth & development
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / ultrastructure*
  • Pulmonary Artery / ultrastructure
  • Pulmonary Veins / ultrastructure
  • Swine
  • Vimentin / analysis


  • Actins
  • Desmin
  • Vimentin