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Exp Cell Res. 1997 Feb 1;230(2):244-51.

A novel technique for culture of human dermal microvascular endothelial cells under either serum-free or serum-supplemented conditions: isolation by panning and stimulation with vascular endothelial growth factor.

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Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis 55455, USA.


Several physiological and pathophysiological events involving vascular endothelium occur at the microvascular level. Studies on human microvasculature require homogenous primary cultures of microvascular endothelial cells. However, procedures available for isolating and culturing human dermal microvascular cells (HDMEC) result in significant contamination with fibroblasts. To eliminate contamination with fibroblasts or other cells, we developed a procedure to isolate HDMEC from neonatal human foreskin by panning the cells using EN4, an anti-endothelial cell monoclonal antibody. Panned cells uniformly expressed von Willebrand factor and CD36, confirming their microvascular endothelial characteristics, whereas cells cultured without panning showed a significant degree of contamination with fibroblasts. In the presence of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), HDMEC could be cultured under serum-free conditions. VEGF stimulated the growth of HDMEC in a dose-dependent manner in serum-free medium or in media supplemented with either human serum or newborn calf serum. Since differences exist between large vessel endothelial cells and microvascular endothelial cells, we compared the response to VEGF stimulation of HDMEC with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). The dose response of the two cell types to VEGF was different. This effect of VEGF on endothelial cells may be mediated by the VEGF receptor kdr, since mRNA for kdr was detected using RT-PCR in both HDMEC and HUVEC. The procedure described in this study will make possible the culture of highly enriched HDMEC without contamination with fibroblasts and facilitate studies with these cells under defined assay conditions in a serum-free environment.

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