The identification of microvascular pericytes in vitro relies principally on morphological characteristics and growth dynamics, as there is a paucity of immunochemical markers for these cells. Consequently, an attempt was made to identify mAb reagents that would aid in both the rapid identification and enrichment of retinal capillary pericytes in vascular cell cultures. A panel of mAbs raised by xenogeneic immunization of mice with various tissues was screened for immunoreactivity with dissociated cultures of bovine retinal capillary pericytes. Two antibodies from the panel (3G5 and HISL-8) were seen to react with pericytes by indirect immunofluorescence. The mAb 3G5 was selected for further study. mAb 3G5 did not react with dissociated cultures of smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells, or retinal pigmented endothelial cells. The pericyte 3G5 antigen was insensitive to the action of trypsin; therefore, mAb 3G5 was used to selectively purify pericytes from trypsinized mixed retinal cell cultures by flow cytometry. 3G5+ pericytes (representing 8% of cells in a mixed retinal cell culture) were enriched at least nine-fold to represent greater than 70% of cells. The mAb 3G5 stained retinal capillaries in vivo with a fluorescence distribution consistent with pericyte staining. The 3G5 antigen of cultured pericytes was found to be a glycolipid of mobility intermediate between ganglioside markers GM1 and GM2.

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