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J Cell Mol Med. 2009 Aug;13(8B):2521-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2008.00479.x. Epub 2008 Aug 21.

CD34+ cells augment endothelial cell differentiation of CD14+ endothelial progenitor cells in vitro.

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Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering Research Group, Dept. Pathology and Medical Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Neovascularization by endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) for the treatment of ischaemic diseases has been a topic of intense research. The CD34(+) cell is often designated as EPC, because it contributes to repair of ischaemic injuries through neovascularization. However, incorporation of CD34(+) cells into the neovasculature is limited, suggesting another role which could be paracrine. CD14(+) cells can also differentiate into endothelial cells and contribute to neovascularization. However, the low proliferative capacity of CD14(+) cell-derived endothelial cells hampers their use as therapeutic cells. We made the assumption that an interaction between CD34(+) and CD14(+) cells augments endothelial differentiation of the CD14(+) cells. In vitro, the influence of CD34(+) cells on the endothelial differentiation capacity of CD14(+) cells was investigated. Endothelial differentiation was analysed by expression of endothelial cell markers CD31, CD144, von Willebrand Factor and endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase. Furthermore, we assessed proliferative capacity and endothelial cell function of the cells in culture. In monocultures, 63% of the CD14(+)-derived cells adopted an endothelial cell phenotype, whereas in CD34(+)/CD14(+) co-cultures 95% of the cells showed endothelial cell differentiation. Proliferation increased up to 12% in the CD34(+)/CD14(+) co-cultures compared to both monocultures. CD34-conditioned medium also increased endothelial differentiation of CD14(+) cells. This effect was abrogated by hepatocyte growth factor neutralizing antibodies, but not by interleukin-8 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 neutralizing antibodies. We show that co-culturing of CD34(+) and CD14(+) cells results in a proliferating population of functional endothelial cells, which may be suitable for treatment of ischaemic diseases such as myocardial infarction.

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