I am interested in fibroblast cells in human arteries. Here are the things that I am not clear at the moment and I could not find any answer from the literature:

  1. What are the dimensions of these fibroblast cells? How big are they in terms of diameter and thickness? How big are they if they are comparing with the collagen fibers in the artery?

  2. I think they have to attach themselves to the fibers in order to proliferate or differentiate. However, I do not know, do one fibroblast cell attach itself to one fiber and then "crawl" to another? Or do they "sit" on a network of fibers?

I will appreciate your help on this and will be even more grateful if you could provide me with some literature that I could find the answer to these questions.


Regarding dimensions:

Cultured fibroblasts

As per this image the length and breadth seems to be ~30-50 μm (area should be roughly around 900 μm²). The third dimension (thickness) as per this article can be assumed to be around 3-7 μm.

Regarding cell attachment:

Cells attach to extracellular matrix via integrins, which attach to ECM proteins like collagen and fibronectin. The matrix is a net of fibres and the cell is not specifically attached to a single fibre but rather "sits"(as you said) on the matrix [see the below image]. A single cell also simultaneously interacts with two different types of ECM proteins such as fibronectin and collagen.


During migration they move along the matrix using lammelipodia (actin filament polymerization in the direction of motion).

Fibroblast express ICAM1/VCAM1 (Inter/Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecules) under certain conditions such as inflammation and bind to T-cells and endothelial cells.

  • $\begingroup$ somehow the second image is not showing in the answer.. this is the link $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 28 '13 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ I dont know exact references for these but you can find these info in cell bio books such as Molecular Biology of the Cell by Bruce Alberts $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 28 '13 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ Hi WYSIWYG, thanks very much for your explicit answer! This really helps! Do you mind if I ask you another question: what are the large thick fibers and small very thin fibrils in the second image? Are they collagen matrix? $\endgroup$ – Lotus Jun 28 '13 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Also, note that the width and height of the second image is about 0.5 μm. So if a normal fibroblast cell is 40 μm in length, then this means a fibroblast should be 80*80 times of the size of the fiber network showing in the second image? Then How does it attach itself to such a complex network of fibers? Merely via integrins? $\endgroup$ – Lotus Jun 28 '13 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ mostly integrins as I understand. But integrins are diverse.. some bind to collagen some bind to fibronectin some bind to laminin etc. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 29 '13 at 7:29

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