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American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology


Peripheral artery disease is an atherosclerotic occlusive disease that causes limb ischemia and has few effective noninterventional treatments. Stem cell therapy is promising, but concomitant diabetes may limit its effectiveness. We evaluated the therapeutic potential of skeletal muscle pericytes to augment postischemic neovascularization in wild-type and type 2 diabetic (T2DM) mice. Wild-type C57BL/6J and leptin receptor spontaneous mutation db/db T2DM mice underwent unilateral femoral artery excision to induce limb ischemia. Twenty-four hours after ischemia induction, CD45-CD34-CD146+ skeletal muscle pericytes or vehicle controls were transplanted into ischemic hindlimb muscles. At postoperative day 28, pericyte transplantation augmented blood flow recovery in wild-type mice (79.3 ± 5% vs. 61.9 ± 5%; P = 0.04), but not in T2DM mice (48.6% vs. 46.3 ± 5%; P = 0.51). Pericyte transplantation augmented collateral artery enlargement in wild-type (26.7 ± 2 µm vs. 22.3 ± 1 µm, P = 0.03), but not T2DM mice (20.4 ± 1.4 µm vs. 18.5 ± 1.2 µm, P = 0.14). Pericyte incorporation into collateral arteries was higher in wild-type than in T2DM mice (P = 0.002). Unexpectedly, pericytes differentiated into Schwann cells in vivo. In vitro, Insulin increased Nox2 expression and decreased tubular formation capacity in human pericytes. These insulin-induced effects were reversed by N-acetylcysteine antioxidant treatment. In conclusion, T2DM impairs the ability of pericytes to augment neovascularization via decreased collateral artery enlargement and impaired engraftment into collateral arteries, potentially via hyperinsulinemia-induced oxidant stress. While pericytes show promise as a unique form of stem cell therapy to increase postischemic neovascularization, characterizing the molecular mechanisms by which T2DM impairs their function is essential to achieve their therapeutic potential.


Limb ischemia, Pericytes, Schwann cells, Type 2 diabetes





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© 2018 the American Physiological Society


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