HMEC-1: establishment of an immortalized human microvascular endothelial cell line

J Invest Dermatol. 1992 Dec;99(6):683-90. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12613748.


The study of human microvascular endothelial cells has been limited, because these cells are difficult to isolate in pure culture, are fastidious in their in vitro growth requirements, and have a very limited lifespan. In order to overcome these difficulties, we have transfected human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC) with a PBR-322-based plasmid containing the coding region for the simian virus 40 A gene product, large T antigen, and succeeded in immortalizing them. These cells, termed CDC/EU.HMEC-1 (HMEC-1), have been passaged 95 times to date and show no signs of senescence, whereas normal microvascular endothelial cells undergo senescence at passages 8-10. HMEC-1 exhibit typical cobblestone morphology when grown in monolayer culture, express and secrete von Willebrand's Factor, take up acteylated low-density lipoprotein, and rapidly form tubes when cultured on matrigel. HMEC-1 grow to densities three to seven times higher than microvascular endothelial cells and require much less stringent growth medium. HMEC-1 will grow in the absence of human serum, whereas microvascular endothelial cells require culture medium supplemented with 30% human serum. These cells express other cell-surface molecules typically associated with endothelial cells, including CD31 and CD36 and epitopes identified by monoclonal antibodies EN4 and PAL-E. They also express the cell adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and CD44 and following stimulation with interferon-gamma express major histocompatibility complex class II antigens. HMEC-1 specifically bind lymphocytes in cell adhesion assays. Thus HMEC-1 is the first immortalized human microvascular endothelial cell line that retains the morphologic, phenotypic, and functional characteristics of normal human microvascular endothelial cells.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic / analysis
  • Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / analysis
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Endothelium, Vascular / chemistry
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Phenotype
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • T-Lymphocytes / chemistry
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Transfection


  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic
  • Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1