Isolation and differential transcriptome of vascular smooth muscle cells and mid-capillary pericytes from the rat brain

Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 16;8(1):12272. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-30739-5.


Brain mural cells form a heterogeneous family which significantly contributes to the maintenance of the blood-brain barrier and regulation of the cerebral blood flow. Current procedures to isolate them cannot specifically separate their distinct subtypes, in particular vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and mid-capillary pericytes (mcPCs), which differ among others by their expression of smooth muscle actin (SMA). We herein describe an innovative method allowing SMA+ VSMCs and SMA- mcPCs to be freshly isolated from the rat cerebral cortex. Using differential RNA-Seq analysis, we then reveal the specific gene expression profile of each subtype. Our results refine the current description of the role of VSMCs in parenchymal cortical arterioles at the molecular level and provide a unique platform to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying the specific functions of mcPCs in the brain vasculature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Capillaries / cytology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / cytology*
  • Pericytes / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • RNA, Messenger