A close association between pericytes and endothelial cells (ECs) is crucial to the stability and function of capillary blood vessels and microvessels. The loss or dysfunction of pericytes results in significant disruption of these blood vessels as observed in pathological conditions, including cancer, diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is a lipid mediator of inflammation, and its tissue concentration is elevated in cancer and neurological disorders. Here, we show that the exposure to PGE2 switches pericytes to a fast-migrating, loosely adhered phenotype that fails to intimately interact with ECs. N-cadherin and connexin-43 in adherens junction and gap junction between pericytes and ECs are downregulated by EP-4 and EP-1-dependent mechanisms, leading to breakdown of the pericyte–EC interaction. Furthermore, R-Ras, a small GTPase important for vascular normalization and vessel stability, is transcriptionally repressed by PGE2 in an EP4-dependent manner. Mouse dermal capillary vessels lose pericyte coverage substantially upon PGE2 injection into the skin. Our results suggest that EP-mediated direct disruption of pericytes by PGE2 is a key process for vascular destabilization. Restoring pericyte–EC interaction using inhibitors of PGE2 signaling may offer a therapeutic strategy in cancer and neurological disorders, in which pericyte dysfunction contributes to the disease progression.
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