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J Dent Res. 2013 Jun;92(6):524-31. doi: 10.1177/0022034513485599. Epub 2013 Apr 22.

VEGFR2-dependent angiogenic capacity of pericyte-like dental pulp stem cells.

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Department of Oral Health Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


Dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) have previously demonstrated potential pericyte-like topography and function. However, the mechanisms regulating their pericyte function are still unknown. In this study, murine DPSC angiogenic and pericyte function were investigated. Tie2-GFP mouse DPSCs were negative for GFP, indicating the absence of endothelial cells in DPSC cultures. Endothelial cells co-cultured with DPSCs formed more mature in vitro tube-like structures as compared with those co-cultured with bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs). Many DPSCs were located adjacent to vascular tubes, assuming a pericyte location. Subcutaneous DPSC transplants in mice with matrigel (MG) (DPSC-MG) induced more vessel formation than BMSC-MG. Soluble Flt (sFlt), an angiogenic inhibitor that binds VEGF-A, significantly decreased the amount of blood vessels in DPSC-MG, but not in BMSC-MG. sFlt inhibited VEGFR2 and downstream ERK signaling in DPSCs. Similar to sFlt inhibition, VEGFR2 knockdown in DPSCs resulted in down-regulation of Vegfa, Vegf receptors, and EphrinB2 and decreased angiogenic induction of DPSCs in vivo. Therefore, the capacity of DPSCs to induce angiogenesis is VEGFR2-dependent. DPSCs enhance angiogenesis by secreting VEGF ligands and associating with vessels resembling pericyte-like cells. This study provides first insights into the mechanism(s) of DPSC angiogenic induction and their function as pericytes, crucial aspects for DPSC use in tissue regeneration.


adult stem cells; angiogenesis; neovascularization; neural crest; soluble Flt; vascular endothelial growth factor

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