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TheScientificWorldJOURNAL
Volume 10 (2010), Pages 1152-1168
http://dx.doi.org/10.1100/tsw.2010.123
Mini-Review Article

Interstitial Cells of Blood Vessels

Centre for Vision and Vascular Science, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, UK

Received 22 February 2010; Revised 12 May 2010; Accepted 26 May 2010

Academic Editor: Peter Little

Copyright © 2010 Vladimír Pucovský.

Abstract

Blood vessels are made up of several distinct cell types. Although it was originally thought that the tunica media of blood vessels was composed of a homogeneous population of fully differentiated smooth muscle cells, more recent data suggest the existence of multiple smooth muscle cell subpopulations in the vascular wall. One of the cell types contributing to this heterogeneity is the novel, irregularly shaped, noncontractile cell with thin processes, termed interstitial cell, found in the tunica media of both veins and arteries. While the principal role of interstitial cells in veins seems to be pacemaking, the role of arterial interstitial cells is less clear. This review summarises the knowledge of the functional and structural properties of vascular interstitial cells accumulated so far, offers hypotheses on their physiological role, and proposes directions for future research.