Pericytes augment the capillary barrier in in vitro cocultures

Christopher J. Dente, Christopher P. Steffes*, Cecilia Speyer, James G. Tyburski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Most in vitro studies of capillary permeability focus on endothelial cell (MVEC) monolayers and ignore the second cell that forms the capillary wall: the microvascular pericyte (PC). We describe a model to study the permeability characteristics of MVEC, PC, and MVEC:PC cocultures. Methods. Semipermeable culture inserts were coated with collagen and then plated with early passage bovine pulmonary MVEC. On Day 3, bovine pulmonary PC were added at concentrations to approximate MVEC:PC ratios of 1:1, 5:1, and 10:1. Electrical resistance was measured on subsequent days and fluorescently labeled (FITC) albumin was used in a permeability assay to calculate an albumin clearance for each culture. Results. The results for electrical resistance measurements and albumin assays showed a similar pattern. Resistance for endothelial cell monolayers was significantly higher and albumin permeability was significantly lower than that of controls. Addition of pericytes at a 10:1 and 5:1 ratios increased the permeability barrier compared to endothelial cells alone, although these cultures were not significantly different from one another. Cocultures at a 1:1 ratio had the best barrier, significantly better than all other cultures. Conclusions. Endothelial cell monolayers are an inadequate model of the microcirculation. As PC form a key component of the capillary wall in vivo and as addition of PC to MVEC monolayers in vitro, optimally at a 1:1 ratio, increase their barrier effect to large and small molecules, we believe it is necessary to include both cells in future in vitro studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Albumin permeability
  • Cocultures
  • Electrical resistance
  • Endothelial cells
  • In vitro
  • Microvascular permeability
  • Pericytes
  • Tissue culture


Dive into the research topics of 'Pericytes augment the capillary barrier in in vitro cocultures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this