Team creates cells that line blood vessels

August 22, 2013 by Joseph Caputo

In a scientific first, Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists have successfully grown the cells that line the blood vessels—called vascular endothelial cells—from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), revealing new details about how these cells function. Using a unique approach, the researchers induced the differentiation of specific cell types by generating mechanical forces on the surface of the iPSC-derived endothelium mimicking the flow of blood. For example, cells that felt a stronger "flow" became artery cells, while those that felt a weaker "flow" became vein cells.

"It was especially exciting to us to discover that these cells are basically responding to biomechanical cues," research leader Guillermo García-Cardena, PhD, an HSCI Affiliated Faculty member, said. "By exposing cells to 'atheroprone flow,' we can direct differentiation of these cells into cells that are present in areas of the circulatory system that we know are affected by diseases like atherosclerosis." García-Cardena is now working on modeling the formation of arterial plaques using human iPSC-derived vascular endothelial cells and identifying potential drugs that might prevent .

García-Cardena's team, which included Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences graduate student William Adams, found that the iPS-derived display three critical functions carried out by mature endothelium in the body: mounting , keeping blood from leaking out of the blood vessel, and preventing blood clots.

Based on this information, García-Cardena's work, published this month in the journal Stem Cell Reports, has another exciting implication—it could potentially reduce, or even eliminate the need for heparin use during and lung failure treatment—making both markedly safer.

Traditionally, patients undergoing dialysis are treated with heparin, a powerful drug, which prevents the blood from clotting as it's routed through the dialysis machine. While heparin is quite effective in preventing clotting, because it considerably thins the blood, it can also cause loss of blood, internal bleeding, and interfere with the healing process.

"The iPSC-derived endothelial cells cells beautifully function as an anticoagulant surface," said García-Cardena, an Associate Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. "In the future, we may take a tissue sample from a patient, generate iPSCs, and then cover an extracorporeal device with the patient's own endothelial cells—so the patient can go home with the device without the need for regular heparin shots."

Explore further: Researchers discover new blood vessel-generating cell with therapeutic potential

More information: Functional Vascular Endothelium Derived from Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. Stem Cell Reports. August 6, 2013

Related Stories

Recommended for you

High-fat diet starves the brain

April 29, 2016

A high-fat diet of three days in mice leads to a reduction in the amount of glucose that reaches the brain. This finding was reported by a Research Group led by Jens Brüning, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism ...

A vitamin that stops the aging process of organs

April 28, 2016

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is pretty amazing. It has already been shown in several studies to be effective in boosting metabolism. And now a team of researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Integrated Systems Physiology (LISP), ...

Lifestyle has a strong impact on intestinal bacteria

April 28, 2016

Everything you eat or drink affects your intestinal bacteria, and is likely to have an impact on your health. That is the finding of a large-scale study led by RUG/UMCG geneticist Cisca Wijmenga into the effect of food and ...

Tiny microscopes reveal hidden role of nervous system cells

April 28, 2016

A microscope about the size of a penny is giving scientists a new window into the everyday activity of cells within the spinal cord. The innovative technology revealed that astrocytes—cells in the nervous system that do ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.