STEM CELL REVIEWS AND REPORTS, vol.11, no.4, pp.549-559, 2015 (SCI-Expanded)
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are one of the most studied adult stem cells and in recent years. They have become attractive agents/cell source for cellular therapy and regenerative medicine applications. During investigations about their origin, researchers hypothesized that perivascular regions are the common anatomical regions where MSCs come from and perivascular cells like pericytes (PCs) (Rouget cells, mural cells) are in vivo counterparts of MSCs. Beside capillaries and microvessels as their most common locations, PCs are also found in large vessels (arteries and veins). They can be isolated from several tissues and organs particularly from retina and brain. There are different approaches about their isolation, characterization and culture but there has been no common protocol yet because of the lack of defined PC-specific marker. They make special contact with endothelial cells in the basement membrane and have very important functions in several tissues and organs. They participate in vascular development, stabilization, maturation, and remodeling, blood pressure control, endothelial cell proliferation and differentiation, contractility of vascular smooth muscle cells, wound healing, vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, long-term maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells in bone marrow niche. Their multipotential differentiation capacity and participation in many events in the body make PCs preferred cells in tissue engineering applications including 3D blood-brain barrier models, skeletal muscle constructs, bone tissue engineering and tissue-engineered vascular grafts.