Recent reports have shown that bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) contribute to the formation of vasculature after stroke. However, the mechanism by which mural cells are formed from BMDC remains elusive. Here, we provide direct evidence that the cell fusion process contributes to the formation of pericytes after stroke. We generated mouse bone marrow chimeras using a cre/lox system that allows the detection of fusion events by X-gal staining. In these mice, we detected X-gal-positive cells that expressed vimentin and desmin, specific markers of mature murine pericytes. Electron microscopy confirmed that fused cells possessed basal lamina and characteristics of pericytes. Furthermore, induction of stroke increased significantly the presence of fused cells in the ischemic area. These cells expressed markers of developing pericytes such as NG2. We conclude that cell fusion participates actively in the generation of vascular tissue through pericyte formation under normal as well as pathologic conditions.
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