De novo hem- and lymphangiogenesis by endothelial progenitor and mesenchymal stem cells in immunocompetent mice

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 Apr;71(8):1513-27. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1460-8. Epub 2013 Sep 1.


Cellular pro-angiogenic therapies may be applicable for the treatment of peripheral vascular diseases. Interactions between mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) may provide such a treatment option. With the exception of some studies in man, experiments have only been performed in immunodeficient mice and rats. We studied an immunocompetent syngeneic mouse model. We isolated MSCs from bone marrow and EPCs from the lung of adult C57/Bl.6 mice and co-injected them in Matrigel subcutaneously in adult C57/Bl.6 mice. We demonstrate development of both blood vessels and lymphatics. Grafted EPCs integrated into the lining of the two vessel types, whereas MSCs usually did not incorporate into the vessel wall. Injections of each separate cell type did not, or hardly, reveal de novo angiogenesis. The release of VEGF-A by MSCs has been shown before, but its inhibitors, e.g., soluble VEGF receptors, have not been studied. We performed qualitative and quantitative studies of the proteins released by EPCs, MSCs, and cocultures of the cells. Despite the secretion of VEGF inhibitors (sVEGFR-1, sVEGFR-2) by EPCs, VEGF-A was secreted by MSCs at bioavailable amounts (350 pg/ml). We confirm the secretion of PlGF, FGF-1, MCP-1, and PDGFs by EPCs/MSCs and suggest functions for VEGF-B, amphiregulin, fractalkine, CXCL10, and CXCL16 during MSC-induced hem- and lymphangiogenesis. We assume that lymphangiogenesis is induced indirectly by growth factors from immigrating leukocytes, which we found in close association with the lymphatic networks. Inflammatory responses to the cellular markers GFP and cell-tracker red (CMPTX) used for tracing of EPCs or MSCs were not observed. Our studies demonstrate the feasibility of pro-angiogenic/lymphangiogenic therapies in immunocompetent animals and indicate new MSC/EPC-derived angiogenic factors.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Immunocompetence
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphangiogenesis / physiology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Animal
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins