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Keywords:

  • acute myocardial infarction;
  • neo-angiogenesis;
  • telocytes;
  • endothelial cells;
  • microRNAs;
  • angiogenic zones;
  • VEGF;
  • NO synthase 2;
  • cardiomyocytes

Abstract

We used rat experimental myocardial infarction to study the ultrastructural recovery, especially neo-angiogenesis in the infarction border zone. We were interested in the possible role(s) of telocytes (TCs), a novel type of interstitial cell very recently discovered in myocardim (see http://www.telocytes.com). Electron microscopy, immunocytochemistry and analysis of several proangiogenic microRNAs provided evidence for TC involvement in neo-angiogenesis after myocardial infarction. Electron microscopy showed the close spatial association of TCs with neoangiogenetic elements. Higher resolution images provided the following information: (a) the intercellular space between the abluminal face of endothelium and its surrounding TCs is frequently less than 50 nm; (b) TCs establish multiple direct nanocontacts with endothelial cells, where the extracellular space seems obliterated; such nanocontacts have a length of 0.4–1.5 μm; (c) the absence of basal membrane on the abluminal face of endothelial cell. Besides the physical contacts (either nanoscopic or microscopic) TCs presumably contribute to neo-angiognesis via paracrine secretion (as shown by immunocytochemistry for VEGF or NOS2). Last but not least, TCs contain measurable quantities of angiogenic microRNAs (e.g. let-7e, 10a, 21, 27b, 100, 126-3p, 130a, 143, 155, 503). Taken together, the direct (physical) contact of TCs with endothelial tubes, as well as the indirect (chemical) positive influence within the ‘angiogenic zones’, suggests an important participation of TCs in neo-angiogenesis during the late stage of myocardial infarction.