A Contact-Based Method for Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells into an Endothelial Cell-Phenotype


Adult stem cells such as mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are known to possess the ability to augment neovascularization processes and are thus widely popular as an autologous source of progenitor cells. However there is a huge gap in our current knowledge of mechanisms involved in differentiating MSC into endothelial cells (EC), essential for lining engineered blood vessels. To fill up this gap, we attempted to differentiate human MSC into EC, by culturing the former onto chemically fixed layers of EC or its ECM, respectively. We expected direct contact of MSC when cultured atop fixed EC or its ECM, would coax the former to differentiate into EC. Results showed that human MSC cultured atop chemically fixed EC or its ECM using EC-medium showed enhanced expression of CD31, a marker for EC, compared to other cases. Further in all human MSC cultured using EC-medium, typically characteristic cobble stone shaped morphologies were noted in comparison to cells cultured using MSC medium, implying that the differentiated cells were sensitive to soluble VEGF supplementation present in the EC-medium. Results will enhance and affect therapies utilizing autologous MSC as a cell source for generating vascular cells to be used in a variety of tissue engineering applications.

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B.J acknowledges the mentoring and technical support received for this work from Dr. Laura Suggs (NIH BUILD Super mentor) at UT Austin. B.J acknowledges NIH BUILD Pilot fund 8UL1GM118970-02 and NIH 1SC2HL134642-01 for funding support. The authors acknowledge the use of the Core Facility at Border Biomedical Research Consortium at UTEP supported by NIH-NIMHD-RCMI Grant No. 2G12MD007592 and help from Dr. Armando Varela. The authors also acknowledge technical assistance received from Swadipta Roy.

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Correspondence to Binata Joddar.

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Joddar, B., Kumar, S.A. & Kumar, A. A Contact-Based Method for Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells into an Endothelial Cell-Phenotype. Cell Biochem Biophys 76, 187–195 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12013-017-0828-z

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  • Direct cell–cell contact
  • Stem cell
  • Differentiated cell
  • Chemically fixed substrate
  • Decellularization