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Characterization of smooth muscle-like cells in circulating human peripheral blood

      Abstract

      Smooth muscle cells play an important role in human vascular diseases. Several lines of evidence demonstrate that circulating smooth muscle precursor cells contribute to intimal hyperplasia in animal models. We obtained large spindle cells expressing alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), denoted here as “smooth muscle-like cells” (SMLC), from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). SMLC derived from human PBMC proliferated readily and expressed pro-inflammatory genes during early culture. After long-term culture, SMLC could contract and express characteristic smooth muscle cell markers. We found peripheral blood mononuclear cell expressing α-smooth muscle actin in the circulating blood that bore CD14 and CD105. Sorted CD14/CD105 double-positive PBMC could differentiate into SMLC. The number of CD14–CD105-bearing PBMC increased significantly in patients with coronary artery disease compared to patients without coronary artery disease. These results support the novel concept that smooth muscle precursor cells exist in circulating human blood and may contribute to the pathogenesis of vascular diseases.

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