The ultrastructural and immunocytochemical characteristics of microvascular cells from human subcutaneous fat tissue were studied after the addition of collagenase and Percoll density gradient, respectively. Monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies directed against antigens specific for endothelial cells (factor VIII, Ulex europaeus, CD31, and CD34), pericytes (muscle-specific actin and desmin), adipocytes (S-100 protein), and monocytes-macrophages (MAC 387 and 150.95 protein) were demonstrated by alkaline phosphatase monoclonal antialkaline phosphatase and protein A-gold techniques. In addition, to determine whether the harvesting method interfered with microvascular cell function, DOT immunoassays of factor VIII and CD34 were conducted on solutions recovered at collagenase incubation as well as after nylon filtration and Percoll administration, respectively. After the collagenase step, the vast majority of microvascular cells had the typical ultrastructural and immunophenotypical features of endothelial cells. In sharp contrast, following the Percoll step, only 1% to 18% of microvascular cells stained with factor VIII, Ulex europeaus, and CD31, whereas 90% of them expressed the CD34 antigen. Surprisingly, DOT immunoassay revealed the presence of factor VIII in the washing buffer recovered after the Percoll step only. Consequently the decreased expression of common endothelial cell markers (factor VIII, Ulex europaeus, and CD31) observed at the end of the cell isolation procedure was related to the adverse effects of Percoll on endothelial cell function. The CD34 surface molecule, being highly resistant, is particularly well suited for unequivocal characterization of microvascular cells as true endothelium. © 1993, Annals of Vascular Surgery, Inc.. All rights reserved.
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