Cells derived from porcine aorta tunica media show mesenchymal stromal-like cell properties in in vitro culture

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2014 Feb 15;306(4):C322-33. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00112.2013. Epub 2013 Dec 4.


Several studies have already described the presence of specialized niches of precursor cells in vasculature wall, and it has been shown that these populations share several features with mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). Considering the relevance of MSCs in the cardiovascular physiopathology and regenerative medicine, and the usefulness of the pig animal model in this field, we reported a new method for MSC-like cell isolation from pig aorta. Filling the vessel with a collagenase solution for 40 min, all endothelial cells were detached and discarded and then collagenase treatment was repeated for 4 h to digest approximately one-third of the tunica media. The ability of our method to select a population of MSC-like cells from tunica media could be ascribed in part to the elimination of contaminant cells from the intimal layer and in part to the overnight culture in the high antibiotic/antimycotic condition and to the starvation step. Aortic-derived cells show an elongated, spindle shape, fibroblast-like morphology, as reported for MSCs, stain positively for CD44, CD56, CD90, and CD105; stain negatively for CD34 and CD45; and express CD73 mRNA. Moreover, these cells show the classical mesenchymal trilineage differentiation potential. Under our in vitro culture conditions, aortic-derived cells share some phenotypical features with pericytes and are able to take part in the formation of network-like structures if cocultured with human umbilical vein endothelial cells. In conclusion, our work reports a simple and highly suitable method for obtaining large numbers of precursor MSC-like cells derived from the porcine aortic wall.

Keywords: mesenchymal stromal cells; perivascular cells; porcine animal model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Aorta, Thoracic / cytology*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Cell Shape
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Collagenases / metabolism
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Pericytes / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Swine
  • Tunica Media / cytology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Biomarkers
  • Collagenases