© 2019 The Authors. PURPOSE. It has been suggested that arteriolar annuli localized in retinal arterioles regulate retinal blood flow acting as sphincters. Here, the morphology and protein expression profile of arteriolar annuli have been analyzed under physiologic conditions in the retina of wildtype, β-actin-Egfp, and Nestin-gfp transgenic mice. Additionally, to study the effect of hypertension, the KAP transgenic mouse has been used. METHODS. Cellular architecture has been studied using digested whole mount retinas and transmission electron microscopy. The profile of protein expression has been analyzed on paraffin sections and whole mount retinas by immunofluorescence and histochemistry. RESULTS. The ultrastructural analysis of arteriolar annuli showed a different cell population found between endothelial and muscle cells that matched most of the morphologic criteria established to define interstitial Cajal cells. The profile of protein expression of these vascular interstitial cells (VICs) was similar to that of interstitial Cajal cells and different from the endothelial and smooth muscle cells, because they expressed b-actin, nestin, and CD44, but they did not express CD31 and a-SMA or scarcely express F-actin. Furthermore, VICs share with pericytes the expression of NG2 and platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta (PDGFR-β). The high expression of Ano1 and high activity of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-diaphorase observed in VICs was diminished during hypertensive retinopathy suggesting that these cells might play a role on the motility of arteriolar annuli and that this function is altered during hypertension. CONCLUSIONS. A novel type of VICs has been described in the arteriolar annuli of mouse retina. Remarkably, these cells undergo important molecular modifications during hypertensive retinopathy and might thus be a therapeutic target against this disease.
- Arteriolar annuli
- Hypertensive retinopathy