Pericytes are mural cells of blood microvessels which play a crucial role at the neurovascular interface of the central nervous system. They are involved in the regulation of blood-brain barrier integrity, angiogenesis, clearance of toxic metabolites, capillary hemodynamic responses, and neuroinflammation, and they demonstrate stem cell activity. Morphological and molecular studies to characterize brain pericytes recently pointed out some heterogeneity in pericyte population. Nevertheless, a clear definition of pericyte subtypes is still lacking. Here, we demonstrate that a fraction of brain pericytes express Connexin 30 (Cx30), a gap junction protein, which, in the brain parenchyma, was thought to be exclusively found in astrocytes. Cx30 could thus be a candidate protein in the composition of the gap junction channels already described between endothelial cells and pericytes. It could also form hemichannels or acts in a channel-independent manner to regulate pericyte morphology, as already observed in astrocytes. Altogether, our results suggest that Cx30 defines a novel brain pericyte subtype.
Keywords: Brain vessel; Connexin 30; Gap junction; Neurovascular unit; Pericyte.