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The term mural cell refers generally to vascular smooth muscle cells and pericytes, both involved in the formation of normal vasculature and responsive to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The weakness and disorganization of tumor vasculature is partly due to the inability of tumors to recruit properly organized mural cells.
Mural cells have contractile function. As the progenitors of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and pericytes, mural cells themselves derive from the mesenchyme. Invasive endothelial become surrounded by locally-derived mesenchymal cells, meaning the surrounding primordium itself contributes the mural cells to the developing vessels. This is advantageous as it can result in tissue-specific functional and regulatory properties of pericytes, and SMCs. In contrast, endothelial cells are thought to be of uniform origin.
- Fujimoto, Akihisa, Onodera, Hisashi, Mori, Akira, Isobe, Naoki, Yasuda, Seiichi, Oe, Hideaki, Yonenaga, Yoshikuni, Tachibana, Tsuyoshi & Imamura, Masayuki (2004) Vascular endothelial growth factor reduces mural cell coverage of endothelial cells and induces sprouting rather than luminal division in an HT1080 tumour angiogenesis model. International Journal of Experimental Pathology 85 (6), 355-364.
- Abramsson A, Berlin O, Papayan H, Paulin D, Shani M, Betsholtz C. (2002). Analysis of Mural Cell Recruitment to Tumor Vessels. Circulation 105:112.
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