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Endothelial cells


Endothelial cells line the blood and lymphatic vessels and the internal cavities of the heart. They display a strongly flattened, polygonal form and mostly rest on a basal membrane. They adhere to each other by desmosomes and tight-junctions. With a total cell number of about one trillion, the endothelium is one of the biggest organs of the body and plays a key role in many physiological and patho-physiological processes. A huge number of soluble factors circulating in the blood or released by neighbouring cells, control proliferation or apoptosis of endothelial cells and the invasion and migration of leucocytes to the endothelium, thereby regulating the maintenance, degeneration, or regeneration of blood vessels.