Expression of thrombospondins by endothelial cells. Injury is correlated with TSP-1

Am J Pathol. 1995 Oct;147(4):1068-80.


The thrombospondins (TSP-1, -2, and -3) comprise a family of proteins that are homologous at the carboxy terminus but have unique sequences at the amino terminus that might be correlated with the regulation of cell behavior. To investigate the expression of TSP-1, -2, and -3 in endothelial cells, we examined developing murine blood vessels and human atherosclerotic plaques by in situ hybridization. The expression of TSP-1 was also characterized in cultured bovine aortic endothelial cells. Expression of TSP-2 was seen in the dorsal aorta as early as embryonic day 10; TSP-1 was not detected in endothelial cells until later stages, and TSP-3 was not apparent in the vasculature. In atherosclerotic specimens, TSP-1 mRNA was detected in many intraplaque microvessels and in the endothelium lining the atheromatous plaque; TSP-2 was absent from these regions. Cultured bovine aortic endothelial cells did not transcribe TSP-2 mRNA at detectable levels. There were high steady-state levels of TSP-1 mRNA in subconfluent bovine aortic endothelial cells before confluence and at the wound edge after injury of the cell monolayer, with maximal expression of TSP-1 in cultures at a time during which approximately 35% of the cells were in S phase. As the majority of these cells subsequently undergo mitosis, these data are consistent with TSP-1 as an inhibitor of endothelial cell proliferation that functions in G1. These results support the conclusion that, despite sequence homology, the TSPs have distinct functions in vascular biology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteriosclerosis / metabolism
  • Arteriosclerosis / pathology
  • Blood Vessels / embryology
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Thrombospondins


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Thrombospondins