The sprouting of endothelial cells from pre-existing blood vessels represents a critical event in the angiogenesis cascade. However, only a fraction of cultured or transplanted endothelial cells form new vessels. Moreover, it is unclear whether this results from a stochastic process or instead relates to certain endothelial cells having a greater angiogenic potential. This study investigated whether there exists a sub-population of cultured endothelial cells with enhanced angiogenic potency in vitro and in vivo. First, endothelial cells that participated in sprouting, and non-sprouting cells, were separately isolated from a 3D fibrin gel sprouting assay. Interestingly, the sprouting cells, when placed back into the same assay, displayed a sevenfold increase in the number of sprouts, as compared to control cells. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (CD143) was significantly down regulated on sprouting cells, as compared to regular endothelial cells. A subset of endothelial cells with low CD143 expression was then prospectively isolated from an endothelial cell culture. Finally, these cells were found to have greater potency in alleviating local ischemia, and restoring regional blood perfusion when transplanted into ischemic hindlimbs, as compared to unsorted endothelial cells. In summary, this study indicates that low expression of CD143 can be used as a biomarker to identify an endothelial cell sub-population that is more capable to drive neovascularization.
Last updated on 09/29/2017
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