Cellular Crosstalk between Endothelial and Smooth Muscle Cells in Vascular Wall Remodeling

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 6;22(14):7284. doi: 10.3390/ijms22147284.


Pathological vascular wall remodeling refers to the structural and functional changes of the vessel wall that occur in response to injury that eventually leads to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Vessel wall are composed of two major primary cells types, endothelial cells (EC) and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). The physiological communications between these two cell types (EC-VSMCs) are crucial in the development of the vasculature and in the homeostasis of mature vessels. Moreover, aberrant EC-VSMCs communication has been associated to the promotor of various disease states including vascular wall remodeling. Paracrine regulations by bioactive molecules, communication via direct contact (junctions) or information transfer via extracellular vesicles or extracellular matrix are main crosstalk mechanisms. Identification of the nature of this EC-VSMCs crosstalk may offer strategies to develop new insights for prevention and treatment of disease that curse with vascular remodeling. Here, we will review the molecular mechanisms underlying the interplay between EC and VSMCs. Additionally, we highlight the potential applicable methodologies of the co-culture systems to identify cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in pathological vascular wall remodeling, opening questions about the future research directions.

Keywords: cocultures; crosstalk; endothelial cells; smooth muscle cells; vascular wall remodeling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Coculture Techniques / methods
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiology*
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / physiology*
  • Vascular Remodeling / physiology*