ATP causes retinal pericytes to contract in vitro

Exp Eye Res. 1988 Mar;46(3):349-62. doi: 10.1016/s0014-4835(88)80025-3.


We evaluated the contractility of bovine retinal microvascular pericytes in culture by permeabilizing the cells with 0.1% Triton X-100 and measuring their response to MgATP. Sequential photographs of the cells were taken over 20 min and their surface areas were measured. Our study directly demonstrates that pericytes are contractile cells, which respond to MgATP in a dose-dependent fashion over a relatively short time course (minutes). Pericytes did not contract in response to GTP, pyrophosphate or beta, gamma-methylene ATP. Immunofluorescence study showed the presence of muscle actin in Triton X-100-treated cells before and after contraction, indicating preservation of this cytoskeletal protein even after treatment with the detergent. Similar experiments on human umbilical vein endothelial cells, bovine lens epithelial cells and human retinal pigment epithelial cells showed that these cells were significantly less contractile than retinal pericytes. That pericytes show substantial contraction over a short time course indicates that these cells may play a major role in regulating blood flow in the microcirculation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Retinal Vessels / cytology
  • Retinal Vessels / drug effects*
  • Retinal Vessels / physiology


  • Actins
  • Adenosine Triphosphate