Fluid shear stress pre-conditioning promotes endothelial morphogenesis of embryonic stem cells within embryoid bodies

Tissue Eng Part A. 2014 Mar;20(5-6):954-65. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2013.0243. Epub 2014 Jan 24.


Pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are capable of differentiating into all mesoderm-derived cell lineages, including endothelial, hematopoietic, and cardiac cell types. Common strategies to direct mesoderm differentiation of ESCs rely on exposing the cells to a series of biochemical and biophysical cues at different stages of differentiation to promote maturation toward specific cell phenotypes. Shear forces that mimic cardiovascular physiological forces can evoke a myriad of responses in somatic and stem cell populations, and have, thus, been studied as a means to direct stem cell differentiation. However, elucidating the effects of shear pre-conditioning on the subsequent vascular differentiation and morphogenesis of ESCs has yet to be examined. In this study, ESC monolayers were subjected to physiological shear (5 dyn/cm(2)) or static conditions for 2 days on collagen IV-coated substrates before initiating embryoid body (EB) differentiation. Immediately after the pre-conditioning period, shear pre-conditioned and statically cultured ESCs exhibited similar morphologies and largely retained a pluripotent phenotype; however, ESCs exposed to fluid shear expressed increased levels of endothelial marker genes Flk-1 (∼3-fold), VE-cadherin (∼3-fold), and PECAM (∼2-fold), compared with statically cultured ESCs. After 7 days of EB culture, ∼70% of EBs formed from shear pre-conditioned ESCs expressed significantly higher levels of endothelial marker genes compared with EBs formed from statically cultured ESCs. Interestingly, unlike EBs formed from statically cultured ESCs, EBs formed from fluid shear stress pre-conditioned ESCs exhibited a centrally localized region of VE-cadherin(+) cells that persisted for at least 10 days of differentiation. These results demonstrate that fluid shear stress pre-conditioning not only promotes ESC endothelial gene expression but also subsequently impacts the organization of endothelial cells within EBs. Together, these studies highlight a novel approach to promote in vitro morphogenesis of developmental vasculogenic models and potentially promote pre-vascularization of tissue-engineered constructs derived from pluripotent stem cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology*
  • Embryoid Bodies / cytology*
  • Embryoid Bodies / drug effects
  • Embryoid Bodies / metabolism
  • Endothelium / drug effects*
  • Endothelium / growth & development*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Hematopoiesis / drug effects
  • Hematopoiesis / genetics
  • Mice
  • Morphogenesis / drug effects*
  • Shear Strength*
  • Stress, Mechanical*
  • Time Factors
  • von Willebrand Factor / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • Cadherins
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • cadherin 5
  • von Willebrand Factor
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins