Brain pericytes form an incomplete envelope around endothelial cells and within the microvascular basement membrane of capillaries and postcapillary venules. Recently, it has been reported that brain pericytes exhibit pluripotency, regulation of endothelial cell activity, and macrophage activity. However, many molecular and cellular aspects of brain pericytes remain unclear. In this study, we have tried to establish a conditionally immortalized brain pericyte cell line (TR-PCT) derived from the brain capillary of a transgenic rat harboring a temperature-sensitive simian virus 40 T antigen gene. One of the clones was named TR-PCT1, and we established 6 clones of pericyte-like cells from a 16 week-old tsA58 transgenic rat. For comparison, primary pericytes from a Wistar rat were also studied. The expression of platelet-derived growth factor receptor β, angiopoietin-1, osteopontin, and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 in TR-PCT1 was determined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Transforming growth factor-β1 enhanced α-smooth muscle actin expression in TR-PCT1, but this expression was reduced by subsequent treatment with basic fibroblast growth factor. When TR-PCT1 was seeded on type I collagen plates and treated with β-glycerophosphate, nodules developed in the cells and these nodules reacted positively to von Kossa stain used as a marker of calcification. We believe that TR-PCT1 will help us gain a better understanding of the physiological and/or pathophysiological role of pericytes.
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