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J Histochem Cytochem. 2010 Aug;58(8):721-30. doi: 10.1369/jhc.2010.955609. Epub 2010 Apr 26.

The neural stem/progenitor cell marker nestin is expressed in proliferative endothelial cells, but not in mature vasculature.

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Department of Physiology, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


Nestin is an intermediate filament protein that is known as a neural stem/progenitor cell marker. It is expressed in undifferentiated central nervous system (CNS) cells during development, but also in normal adult CNS and in CNS tumor cells. Additionally, nestin is expressed in endothelial cells (ECs) of CNS tumor tissues and of adult tissues that replenish by angiogenesis. However, the regulation of nestin expression in vascular endothelium has not been analyzed in detail. This study showed that nestin expression was observed in proliferating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), but not in mature ECs. In adherent cultured cells derived from bone marrow cells, EPCs that highly expressed nestin also expressed the endothelial marker CD31 and the proliferation marker Ki67. ECs cultured without growth factors showed attenuated nestin immunoreactivity as they matured. Transgenic mice that carried the enhanced green fluorescent protein under the control of the CNS-specific second intronic enhancer of the nestin gene showed no reporter gene expression in EPCs. This indicated that the mechanisms of nestin gene expression were different in EPCs and CNS cells. Immunohistochemistry showed nestin expression in neovascular cells from two distinct murine models. Our results demonstrate that nestin can be used as a marker protein for neovascularization.

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