Objective: Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are a novel stem cell population derived from human adult somatic cells through reprogramming using a defined set of transcription factors. Our aim was to determine the features of the directed differentiation of human iPS cells into vascular endothelial cells (ECs) and mural cells (MCs), and to compare that process with human embryonic stem (hES) cells.
Methods and results: We previously established a system for differentiating hES cells into vascular cells. We applied this system to human iPS cells and examined their directed differentiation. After differentiation, TRA1-60(-) Flk1(+) cells emerged and divided into VE-cadherin-positive and -negative populations. The former were also positive for CD34, CD31, and eNOS and were consistent with ECs. The latter differentiated into MCs, which expressed smooth muscle alpha-actin and calponin after further differentiation. The efficiency of the differentiation was comparable to that of human ES cells.
Conclusions: We succeeded in inducing and isolating human vascular cells from iPS cells and indicate that the properties of human iPS cell differentiation into vascular cells are nearly identical to those of hES cells. This work will contribute to our understanding of human vascular differentiation/development and to the development of vascular regenerative medicine.