Adv Exp Med Biol 2019 ;1122:1-26
Department of Ophthalmology, University Clinic of Ophthalmology and Optometry, Research Program for Experimental Ophthalmology and Glaucoma Research, Paracelsus Medical University/SALK, Salzburg, Austria.
Pericytes (PCs) are specialized cells located abluminal of endothelial cells (ECs) on capillaries, embedded within the same basement membrane. They are essential regulators of vascular development, remodeling, and blood-retina-barrier (BRB) tightness and are therefore important components to maintain tissue homeostasis. The perivascular localization and expression of contractile proteins suggest that PCs participate in capillary blood flow regulation and neurovascular coupling. Due to their ability to differentiate into various cell types in vitro, they are regarded as potential cells for tissue repair and therapeutic approaches in regenerative medicine. Altered function or loss of PCs is associated with a multitude of CNS diseases, including diabetic retinopathy (DR). In this chapter, we will provide a short overview of retinal vascular development, the origin of PCs, and focus on PCs in retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and in the diabetic retina. Further, animal models to study the fate of PCs and the potential role of (retinal) PCs in regeneration and wound healing will be discussed.