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Development. 2002 Jun;129(11):2773-83.

The meso-angioblast: a multipotent, self-renewing cell that originates from the dorsal aorta and differentiates into most mesodermal tissues.

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  • 1Stem Cell Research Institute, Dibit, H. S. Raffaele, Via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milano, Italy.


We have previously reported the origin of a class of skeletal myogenic cells from explants of dorsal aorta. This finding disagrees with the known origin of all skeletal muscle from somites and has therefore led us to investigate the in vivo origin of these cells and, moreover, whether their fate is restricted to skeletal muscle, as observed in vitro under the experimental conditions used. To address these issues, we grafted quail or mouse embryonic aorta into host chick embryos. Donor cells, initially incorporated into the host vessels, were later integrated into mesodermal tissues, including blood, cartilage, bone, smooth, skeletal and cardiac muscle. When expanded on a feeder layer of embryonic fibroblasts, the clonal progeny of a single cell from the mouse dorsal aorta acquired unlimited lifespan, expressed hemo-angioblastic markers (CD34, Flk1 and Kit) at both early and late passages, and maintained multipotency in culture or when transplanted into a chick embryo. We conclude that these newly identified vessel-associated stem cells, the meso-angioblasts, participate in postembryonic development of the mesoderm, and we speculate that postnatal mesodermal stem cells may be derived from a vascular developmental origin.

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