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Recent advances in pericyte research have contributed to our understanding of the physiology and pathophysiology of microvessels. The microvasculature consists of arteriolar and venular networks located upstream and downstream of the capillaries. Arterioles are surrounded by a monolayer of spindle-shaped myocytes, while terminal branches of precapillary arterioles, capillaries and all sections of postcapillary venules are encircled by a monolayer of morphologically diverse pericytes. There are physiological differences in the response of pericytes and myocytes to vasoactive molecules, suggesting that these two vascular cell types could have different functional roles in the regulation of local blood flow. The contractile activity of pericytes and myocytes is controlled by changes of cytosolic free Ca(2+) concentration. In this short review, we summarize our results and those of other authors on the contractility of pericytes and their Ca(2+) signalling. We describe results regarding sources of Ca(2+) and mechanisms of Ca(2+) release and Ca(2+) entry in control of the spatiotemporal characteristics of the Ca(2+) signals in pericytes.

Original publication




Journal article


J Vasc Res

Publication Date





190 - 199


Animals, Calcium, Calcium Signaling, Endothelium, Vascular, Humans, Muscle Cells, Pericytes, Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled, Sarcoplasmic Reticulum