From Cell Biology to Tissue Engineering



Telocytes in skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle interstitium: morphological and functional aspects

Mirca Marini, Irene Rosa, Lidia Ibba-Manneschi and Mirko Manetti

Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Section of Anatomy and Histology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy

Offprint requests to: Dr. Mirko Manetti, Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Section of Anatomy and Histology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy. e-mail: mirko.manetti@unifi.it or mirkomanetti@yahoo.it

Summary. Telocytes (TCs) represent a new distinct type of cells found in the stromal compartment of many organs, including the skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscles. TCs are morphologically defined as interstitial cells with a small cellular body from which arise very long (up to hundreds of micrometers) and thin moniliform processes (named telopodes) featuring the alternation of slender segments (called podomers) and small dilated portions (called podoms) accommodating some organelles. Although these stromal cells are mainly characterized by their ultrastructural traits, in the last few years TCs have been increasingly studied for their immunophenotypes, microRNA profiles, and gene expression and proteomic signatures. By their long-distance spreading telopodes, TCs build a three-dimensional network throughout the whole stromal space and communicate with each other and neighboring cells through homocellular and heterocellular junctions, respectively. Moreover, increasing evidence suggests that TCs may exert paracrine functions being able to transfer genetic information and signaling molecules to other cells via the release of different types of extracellular vesicles. A close relationship between TCs and stem/progenitor cell niches has also been described in several organs. However, the specific functions of TCs located in the muscle interstitium remain to be unraveled. Here, we review the morphological and possible functional aspects of TCs in skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle tissues. The potential involvement of TCs in muscle tissue pathological changes and future possibilities for targeting TCs as a novel promising therapeutic strategy to foster muscle tissue regeneration and repair are also discussed Histol Histopathol

Key words: Telocytes, Interstitial cells, Skeletal muscle, Cardiac muscle, Smooth muscle

DOI: 10.14670/HH-11-994