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Keywords:

  • CD34;
  • platelet derived growth factor receptor-α;
  • oral mucosa;
  • endothelial tip cells;
  • sprouting angiogenesis;
  • circulating fibrocytes

Abstract

This study aimed to evaluate by immunohistochemistry and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) the morphological features of the oral mucosa endothelial tip cells (ETCs) and to determine the immune and ultrastructural patterns of the stromal nonimmune cells which could influence healing processes. Immune labeling was performed on bioptic samples obtained from six edentulous patients undergoing surgery for dental implants placement; three normal samples were collected from patients prior to the extraction of the third mandibular molar. The antibodies were tested for CD34, CD117(c-kit), platelet derived growth factor receptor-alpha (PDGFR-α), Mast Cell Tryptase, CD44, vimentin, CD45, CD105, alpha-smooth muscle actin, FGF2, Ki67. In light microscopy, while stromal cells (StrCs) of the reparatory and normal oral mucosa, with a fibroblastic appearance, were found positive for a CD34/CD44/CD45/CD105/PDGFR-α/vimentin immune phenotype, the CD117/c-kit labeling led to a positive stromal reaction only in the reparatory mucosa. In TEM, non-immune StrCs presenting particular ultrastructural features were identified as circulating fibrocytes (CFCs). Within the lamina propria CFCs were in close contact with ETCs. Long processes of the ETCs were moniliform, and hook-like collaterals were arising from the dilated segments, suggestive for a different stage migration. Maintenance and healing of oral mucosa are so supported by extensive processes of angiogenesis, guided by ETCs that, in turn, are influenced by the CFCs that populate the stromal compartment both in normal and reparatory states. Therefore, CFCs could be targeted by specific therapies, with pro- or anti-angiogenic purposes. Anat Rec, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.