Pericyte-Derived Sphinogosine 1-Phosphate Induces the Expression of Adhesion Proteins and Modulates the Retinal Endothelial Cell Barrier
Objective—The mechanisms that regulate the physical interaction of pericytes and endothelial cells and the effects of these interactions on interendothelial cell junctions are not well understood. We determined the extent to which vascular pericytes could regulate pericyte-endothelial adhesion and the consequences that this disruption might have on the function of the endothelial barrier.
Methods and Results—Human retinal microvascular endothelial cells were cocultured with pericytes, and the effect on the monolayer resistance of endothelial cells and expression of the cell junction molecules N-cadherin and VE-cadherin were measured. The molecules responsible for the effect of pericytes or pericyte-conditioned media on the endothelial resistance and cell junction molecules were further analyzed. Our results indicate that pericytes increase the barrier properties of endothelial cell monolayers. This barrier function is maintained through the secretion of pericyte-derived sphingosine 1-phosphate. Sphingosine 1-phosphate aids in maintenance of microvascular stability by upregulating the expression of N-cadherin and VE-cadherin, and downregulating the expression of angiopoietin 2.
Conclusion—Under normal circumstances, the retinal vascular pericytes maintain pericyte-endothelial contacts and vascular barrier function through the secretion of sphingosine 1-phosphate. Alteration of pericyte-derived sphingosine 1-phosphate production may be an important mechanism in the development of diseases characterized by vascular dysfunction and increased permeability.
- Received April 7, 2011.
- Accepted September 7, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.