Pinocytosis was measured in monkey aortic smooth muscle cells (SMC), bovine aortic endothelial cells, and Swiss 3T3 cells in culture as cellular uptake of [U-(14)C]sucrose and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) from the tissue culture medium. Monkey arterial SMC and Swiss 3T3 cells were maintained in a quiescent state of growth at low cells density in medium containing 5 percent monkey plasma-derived serum (PDS). Replacement of PDS with 5 percent monkey whole blood serum (WBS) from the same donor, or addition to PDS of partially purified platelet-derived growth factor(s) (PF), resulted in a marked stimulation of pinocytosis as well as of cellular proliferation. In SMC, enhancement of the rate of pinocytosis occurred 4-6 h after exposure to WBS or PF, and the rate was up to twofold higher than the rate in medium containing PDS. In contrast, [(3)H]thymidine uptake by SMC did not increase until 12-16 h after exposure to PF.

In endothelial cells the presence of PF or WBS did not enhance either the rate of pinocytosis or the rate of proliferation over that in PDS. Thus, endothelial cells did not become quiescent at subconfluent densities in PDS but maintained rates of proliferation and pinocytosis that were equivalent to those in WBS.

By autoradiography, the fraction of labeled nuclei in SMC cultures 24 h after change of medium increased from 0.061 +/- 0.004 in quiescent cultures to 0.313 +/- 0.028 after exposure to WBS or PF. In contrast, labeling indices of endothelial cells were similar for cultures grown in PDS, WBS, or PF at any single time point after change of medium.

These findings suggest that the rate of pinocytosis maybe be coupled in some fashion to growth regulation, which may be mediated in part by specific growth factors, such as that derived from the thrombocyte.

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