Type VIII collagen is a short-chain collagen with considerable similarity to type X collagen. We have generated chain-specific antibodies to the α1 and α2 chains of type VIII collagen, and used them as probes to examine the synthesis of type VIII collagen by vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC). In addition, chain-specific oligonucleotides have been used in reverse transcriptase-PCR (RT-PCR) reactions with RNA extracted from cultured smooth muscle cells in culture and from freshly isolated vascular tissues. Radiolabelling of VSMC in culture and immunoprecipitation with chain-specific antibodies showed that both chains were expressed. Lower levels of type VIII collagen were found in adult VSMC than in neonatal VSMC. RT-PCR showed that both chains were expressed in tissues as well as cells in culture. The results indicate that type VIII collagen is a product of VSMC of normal adult vessels and is expressed at high levels by VSMC in vascular lesions.

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