Pericytes are contractile cells that surround blood vessels. When contracting, they change the diameter of the vessel and therefore influence blood flow homeostasis; however, mechanisms controlling pericyte action are less well understood. Since blood flow regulation per se is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, the latter might also be involved in pericyte action. Hence, rat choroidal pericytes were analyzed for such a connection by using appropriate markers. Rat choroidal wholemounts and sections were prepared for immunohistochemistry of the pericyte marker chondroitin-sulfate-proteoglycan (NG2) and the pan-neuronal marker PGP9.5 or of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) and choline acetyl transferase (ChAT). Additionally, PGP9.5 and TH were analyzed in the choroid of DCX-dsRed2 transgenic rats, displaying red-fluorescent perivascular cells and serving as a putative model for studying pericyte function in vivo. Confocal laser-scanning microscopy revealed NG2-immunoreactive cells and processes surrounding the blood vessels. These NG2-positive cells were not co-localized with PGP9.5 but received close appositions of PGP9.5-, TH-, VIP- and ChAT-immunoreactive boutons and fibers. In the DCX-dsRed2 transgenic rat, PGP9.5 and TH were also densely apposed on the dsRed-positive cells adjacent to blood vessels. These cells were likewise immunoreactive for NG2, suggesting their pericyte identity. In addition to the innervation of vascular smooth muscle cells, the close relationship of PGP9.5 and further sympathetic (TH) and parasympathetic (VIP, ChAT) nerve fibers on NG2-positive pericytes indicated an additional target of the autonomic nervous system for choroidal blood flow regulation. Similar findings in the DCX-dsRed transgenic rat indicate the potential use of this animal model for in vivo experiments revealing the role of pericytes in blood flow regulation.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Autonomic Nervous System/cytology*
Rats, Inbred BN
Find related publications in this database (Keywords)Autonomic nervous system