Mesenchymal-epithelial interactions play an important role in the physiology and pathology of epithelial tissues. Mesenchymal cells either associate with epithelium basement membrane [pericytes and perivascular monocyte-derived cells (MDC)] or reside within epithelium (MDC and T cells). Although intraepithelial mesenchymal cells were suggested to contribute to the epithelium physiology, their association with particular steps in differentiation of epithelial cells, interactions among themselves, and their fate remain unclear. We studied epitopes of mesenchymal cells and their products (immunoglobulins) in stratified epithelium of uterine ectocervix, which is one of the prototypes of complete cellular differentiation from stem into the aged cells.
Perivascular CD14 primitive MDC associated with basal (stem) epithelial cells. Thy-1 pericytes of microvasculature secreted intercellular vesicles, which associated with Ki67 postmitotic epithelial cells expressing MHC class I. Intraepithelial T cells showed an association with veiled type MDC [dendritic cell (DC) precursors] among parabasal cells, and exhibited fragmentation after entering intermediate (mature) epithelial layers. Mature DC secreted CD68 and exhibited fragmentation after reaching mid intermediate layers. Binding of IgM was detected at the top of each layer: in the upper parabasal, upper intermediate, and most surface epithelial cells. IgG was confined to the entire superficial layer.
These data suggest that the phylogenetically and ontogenetically developed hierarchy of mesenchymal cells (MDC, pericytes, T cells) and immunoglobulins (IgM, IgG) accompanies differentiation of epithelial cells from immature into the mature and aged phenotype. Further studies of an involvement of mesenchymal cells in the regulation of tissue homeostasis may bring novel approaches to the prevention and therapy of tissue dysfunctions characterized by permanent tissue immaturity (muscular dystrophy) or accelerated aging (degenerative diseases).
BMC Developmental Biology 2001, 1:11 doi:10.1186/1471-213X-1-11