The distribution of centrosomes in endothelial cells of the rat aorta and inferior vena cava

Artery. 1997;22(5):251-65.


Centrosomes are preferentially oriented toward the heart in endothelial cells (ECs) of the pig aorta and pig and rabbit inferior vena cava (IVC). In the rabbit aorta this preferential orientation of the centrosome toward the heart decreases with age. To determine if this is also true in the rat, a species which is more amenable to experimental manipulation than the pig or the rabbit, we determined the position of centrosomes relative to the nucleus in ECs lining the aorta and IVC using whole mounts of vessels that were immunofluorescently stained with sera specific for centrosomes. In both the thoracic and abdominal aorta of the rat the majority of the ECs (60%) had centrosomes on the heart side of the nucleus, 25% had centrosomes on the side of the nucleus away from the heart and 15% had centrosomes in a central position in the cell. Similar results were obtained in the IVC of the rat where these values were, 58%, 31% and 11% respectively. A comparable preferential orientation of centrosomes toward the heart was also seen in the ECs of thoracic and abdominal aortas and IVCs of weanling and young adult rats and this did not decrease with age as it does in the rabbit aorta. When segments of the rat aorta were placed in organ culture, the percentage of ECs with preferentially oriented centrosomes decreased by 48 hrs, even though the cells remained elongated in shape. We have recently demonstrated that ECs in the rat aorta are normally migrating in the direction of the heart and thus in the direction in which the centrosomes in rat aortic ECs are preferentially oriented. This correlation is consistent with the general hypothesis that the centrosome position defines the direction of migration in monolayers of cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Aorta / cytology*
  • Centrosome / ultrastructure*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Vena Cava, Inferior / cytology*