The Microvasculature: A Tapestry of Cell Types

Blood vessels in the microcirculation are comprised of many different cell types, which can be identified by the expression of various phenotypic markers. Cells in the microcirculation also express some of the markers that cells in the nervous system express, particularly during development or in adult remodeling. This image shows a hyaloid microvessel in a murine eye at postnatal day three containing endothelial cells (lectin stained in blue) and smooth muscle cells (immunostained with antibody to NG2 in green). Some of the microvascular smooth muscle cells in the vessel are also labeled with an antibody to beta-tubulin III (red; co-expression with NG2 makes them appear yellow). Beta-tubulin III is a neural marker that is expressed by astrocytes in the retina. Photo contributed and taken using a confocal microscope (60x magnification) by Anthony Bruce in the laboratory of Dr. Shayn Peirce-Cottler at the University of Virginia.