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Hołda and Koziej: Telocytes in human coronary arteries – scanning electron microscope study

Introduction: A telocyte is a novel type of interstitial cell in the stromal connective tissue of many animals and human organs. Morphologically, telocytes are composed of small cell bodies with telopodes – very long prolongations of uneven calibre. The existence of telopodes and the 3D network indicates that telocytes may function in intercellular communication and regulation. The presence of telocytes has been identified in human heart valves, atria, ventricles, but not yet in human coronary arteries. The pro-angiogenesis behaviour of telocytes and their close spatial relationships with newly formed blood vessels was outlined within the border zone of myocardial infarction.

Objectives: To show visual evidence of the presence of telocytes within human coronary arteries.

Materials and methods: Human coronary arteries were collected during routine forensic medical autopsies from people who did not have cardiovascular pathologies. The endothelial surface of human coronary arteries was examined and the images were captured using a scanning electron microscope. The study was approved by the Bioethical Committee of the Jagiellonian University Medical College.

Results: Telocytes were present on the endothelial surface of human coronary arteries and had one to six long telopodes emerging from the small cell body (varying in shape depending on the number of telopodes). Telocytes seem to be adherent to the endothelial surface. They appear either singular or in groups and their density differs by region. Contacts between telopodes of two distinct adjacent telocytes were observed.

Conclusions: We provide visual evidence for the presence of telocytes on the endothelial surface in human coronary arteries. It remains to be determined how telocytes support the ability of arteries to re-establish normal structure and function following injury and its impact on the regeneration of infarcted myocardium.

Acknowledgements: Dr WieslawaKlimek-Piotrowska MD, PhD, for supervising this project.


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