open access

Vol 61, No 4 (2002)
ORIGINAL ARTICLES
Published online: 2002-08-29
Submitted: 2012-02-06
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A scanning electron microscopic study of phenotypic plasticity and surface structural changes of aortal smooth muscle cells in primary culture

Cecylia Tukaj, Jerzy Bohdanowicz, Jolanta Kubasik-Juraniec
Folia Morphol 2002;61(4):191-198.

open access

Vol 61, No 4 (2002)
ORIGINAL ARTICLES
Published online: 2002-08-29
Submitted: 2012-02-06

Abstract

Phenotypic modulation of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) from a contractile to a synthetic state characterised by active proliferation appears to be an early event in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. A similar transition occurs when SMCs are established in culture. In this study the phenotypic plasticity and surface structural changes of aortal smooth muscle cells during the transition from the contractile to the synthetic state and during maturation have been structurally assessed by scanning electron microscope (SEM). The experiments were performed on SMCs obtained from aorta of neonatal rats after enzymatic digestion and then cultured on glass cover slips. SEM observations revealed a three-dimensional appearance characteristic for different stages of SMCs. Intensively proliferating cells from monolayer region were large, polygonal in shape with lamellipodia and well spread. Long, uniform in diameter, finger-like microvilli were densely arranged on the surface of these cells. In the thickened region of culture, the cells were rather small, generally spindle-shaped, not well spread, with low density of short, bubble-like microvilli on the surface. Numerous plasma membrane structural alterations in apoptotic cells were observed by SEM: loss of cellular adhesion, smoothing, shrinkage and outpouching of membrane segments have been recognised as markers associated with the cell injury and death. It was concluded that scanning microscopy observations would allow a more complete understanding of SMCs and their changes in culture and atherosclerotic disease.

Abstract

Phenotypic modulation of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) from a contractile to a synthetic state characterised by active proliferation appears to be an early event in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. A similar transition occurs when SMCs are established in culture. In this study the phenotypic plasticity and surface structural changes of aortal smooth muscle cells during the transition from the contractile to the synthetic state and during maturation have been structurally assessed by scanning electron microscope (SEM). The experiments were performed on SMCs obtained from aorta of neonatal rats after enzymatic digestion and then cultured on glass cover slips. SEM observations revealed a three-dimensional appearance characteristic for different stages of SMCs. Intensively proliferating cells from monolayer region were large, polygonal in shape with lamellipodia and well spread. Long, uniform in diameter, finger-like microvilli were densely arranged on the surface of these cells. In the thickened region of culture, the cells were rather small, generally spindle-shaped, not well spread, with low density of short, bubble-like microvilli on the surface. Numerous plasma membrane structural alterations in apoptotic cells were observed by SEM: loss of cellular adhesion, smoothing, shrinkage and outpouching of membrane segments have been recognised as markers associated with the cell injury and death. It was concluded that scanning microscopy observations would allow a more complete understanding of SMCs and their changes in culture and atherosclerotic disease.
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Keywords

apoptosis; microvilli; phenotypic modulation; SEM

About this article
Title

A scanning electron microscopic study of phenotypic plasticity and surface structural changes of aortal smooth muscle cells in primary culture

Journal

Folia Morphologica

Issue

Vol 61, No 4 (2002)

Pages

191-198

Published online

2002-08-29

Bibliographic record

Folia Morphol 2002;61(4):191-198.

Keywords

apoptosis
microvilli
phenotypic modulation
SEM

Authors

Cecylia Tukaj
Jerzy Bohdanowicz
Jolanta Kubasik-Juraniec

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