Purification and long-term culture of multipotent progenitor cells affiliated with the walls of human blood vessels: myoendothelial cells and pericytes

Methods Cell Biol. 2008;86:295-309. doi: 10.1016/S0091-679X(08)00013-7.


We have identified with molecular markers and purified by flow cytometry two populations of cells that are developmentally and anatomically related to blood vessel walls in human tissues: myoendothelial cells, found in skeletal muscle and coexpressing markers of endothelial and myogenic cells, and pericytes--aka mural cells--which surround endothelial cells in capillaries and microvessels. Purified myoendothelial cells and pericytes exhibit multilineage developmental potential and differentiate, in culture and in vivo, into skeletal myofibers, bone, cartilage, and adipocytes. Myoendothelial cells and pericytes can be cultured on the long term with sustained marker expression and differentiation potential and clonal populations thereof have been derived. Yet, these blood vessel wall-derived progenitors exhibit no tendency to malignant transformation upon extended culture. Our results suggest that multipotent progenitor cells, such as mesenchymal stem cells, previously isolated retrospectively from diverse cultured adult tissues are derived from a subset of perivascular cells. We present in this chapter the main strategies and tactics used to purify, culture on the long term, and phenotypically characterize these novel multipotent cells.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Vessels / cytology*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Fetus / anatomy & histology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology*
  • Pericytes / cytology*
  • Phenotype
  • Stem Cells / cytology*