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J Vasc Res. 2010;47(5):369-83. doi: 10.1159/000277724. Epub 2010 Jan 27.

Vascular cell-like potential of undifferentiated ligament fibroblasts to construct vascular cell-specific marker-positive blood vessel structures in a PI3K activation-dependent manner.

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Department of Oral Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Division of Oral Health Science, Graduate School of Dental Medicine, Hokkaido University, West, Sapporo, Japan.



To evaluate whether fibroblasts derived from periodontal ligament retain the ability to differentiate into putative vascular cells and construct vascular cell-specific marker-positive blood vessel structures. We also evaluated the morphological features of the structure and investigated the intracellular molecular mechanism underlying the angiogenic activity of these cells.


Single cell-derived cultures (SCDCs) were established from primary rat ligament fibroblast cultures, and their expression of ligament cell-, mesenchymal stem cell- and vascular cell-specific markers was evaluated by RT-PCR and immunocytochemistry. The ability of the cells to construct a blood vessel structure was evaluated in a three-dimensional type I collagen scaffold. The morphological and immunohistological characteristics of the structure were then evaluated.


Each SCDC expressed endothelial cell (EC)-specific and smooth muscle cell-specific markers, in addition to mesenchymal stem cell- and ligament cell-specific markers. SCDC2 cells, which abundantly expressed the EC markers Flk-1 and Tie-2, vigorously constructed a blood vessel structure in a phosphoinositide 3-kinase activation-dependent manner.


Periodontal ligament fibroblasts have the potential to construct an EC marker-positive blood vessel-like structure. Consequently, the fibroblastic lineage in ligament tissue could be a candidate precursor for construction of a vascular system around damaged ligament tissue to facilitate its regeneration.

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