International Orthopaedics

, Volume 38, Issue 9, pp 1819–1824 | Cite as

From pericytes to perivascular tumours: correlation between pathology, stem cell biology, and tissue engineering

  • Marco Mravic
  • Greg Asatrian
  • Chia Soo
  • Claire Lugassy
  • Raymond L. Barnhill
  • Sarah M. Dry
  • Bruno PeaultEmail author
  • Aaron W. JamesEmail author
Review Article



Pericytes were once thought only to aid in angiogenesis and blood pressure control. Gradually, the known functions of pericytes and other perivascular stem cells (PSC) have broadly increased. The following review article will summarize the known functions and importance of pericytes across disciplines of pathology, stem cell biology, and tissue engineering.


A literature review was performed for studies examining the importance of pericytes in pathology, stem cell biology, and tissue engineering.


The importance of pericytes most prominently includes the identification of the perivascular identity of mesenchymal stem cells (or MSC). Now, pericytes and other PSC are known to display surface markers and multilineage differentiation potential of MSC. Accordingly, interest in the purification and use of PSC for mesenchymal tissue formation and regeneration has increased. Significant demonstration of in vivo efficacy in bone and muscle regeneration has been made in laboratory animals. Contemporaneously with the uncovering of an MSC identity for pericytes, investigators in tumour biology have found biologically relevant roles for pericytes in tumor formation, lymphovascular invasion, and perivascular tumor spread. As well, the contribution of pericytes to perivascular tumors has been examined (and debated), including glomus tumour, myopericytoma and solitary fibrous tumour/hemangiopericytoma. In addition, an expanding recognition of pericyte mimicry and perivascular tumour invasion has occurred, encompassing common malignancies of the brain and skin.


In summary, pericytes have a wide range of roles in health and disease. Pericytes are being increasingly studied for their role in tumour formation, growth and invasion. Likewise, the application of pericytes/PSC for mesenchymal tissue engineering is an expanding field of interest.


Pericyte Adventitial cell Glomus tumour Myopericytoma Solitary fibrous tumour hemangiopericytoma 



Clinical specimens were recovered and presented with appropriate institutional approval, under University of California, Los Angeles IRB # 13–000918. The authors thank the staff of Translational Pathology Core Laboratory, and AS James for their excellent technical assistance. AWJ is supported by the UCLA Pathology Translational Research Fund. MM is supported by NIH MARC T34 GM008563.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Mravic
    • 1
  • Greg Asatrian
    • 1
    • 3
  • Chia Soo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Claire Lugassy
    • 3
  • Raymond L. Barnhill
    • 3
  • Sarah M. Dry
    • 3
  • Bruno Peault
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aaron W. James
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Orthopaedic Hospital Research CenterUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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