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Physiological Reports


Pericytes are skeletal muscle resident, multipotent stem cells that are localized to the microvasculature. In vivo, studies have shown that they respond to damage through activation of nuclear-factor kappa-B (NF-κB), but the downstream effects of NF-κB activation on endothelial cell proliferation and cell–cell signaling during repair remain unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine pericyte NF-κB activation in a model of skeletal muscle damage; and use genetic manipulation to study the effects of changes in pericyte NF-κB activation on endothelial cell proliferation and cytokine secretion. We utilized scratch injury to C2C12 cells in coculture with human primary pericytes to assess NF-κB activation and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) secretion from pericytes and C2C12 cells. We also cocultured endothelial cells with pericytes that expressed genetically altered NF-κB activation levels, and then quantified endothelial cell proliferation and screened the conditioned media for secreted cytokines. Pericytes trended toward greater NF-κB activation in injured compared to control cocultures (P = 0.085) and in comparison to C2C12 cells (P = 0.079). Second, increased NF-κB activation in pericytes enhanced the proliferation of cocultured endothelial cells (1.3-fold,P = 0.002). Finally, we identified inflammatory signaling molecules, including MCP-1 and interleukin 8 (IL-8) that may mediate the crosstalk between pericytes and endothelial cells. The results of this study show that pericyte NF-κB activation may be an important mechanism in skeletal muscle repair with implications for the development of therapies for musculoskeletal and vascular diseases, including peripheral artery disease.








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