Isolation and Primary Culture of Mouse Aortic Endothelial Cells

J Vis Exp. 2016 Dec 19;(118):52965. doi: 10.3791/52965.


The vascular endothelium is essential to normal vascular homeostasis. Its dysfunction participates in various cardiovascular disorders. The mouse is an important model for cardiovascular disease research. This study demonstrates a simple method to isolate and culture endothelial cells from the mouse aorta without any special equipment. To isolate endothelial cells, the thoracic aorta is quickly removed from the mouse body, and the attached adipose tissue and connective tissue are removed from the aorta. The aorta is cut into 1 mm rings. Each aortic ring is opened and seeded onto a growth factor reduced matrix with the endothelium facing down. The segments are cultured in endothelial cell growth medium for about 4 days. The endothelial sprouting starts as early as day 2. The segments are then removed and the cells are cultured continually until they reach confluence. The endothelial cells are harvested using neutral proteinase and cultured in endothelial cell growth medium for another two passages before being used for experiments. Immunofluorescence staining indicated that after the second passage the majority of cells were double positive for Dil-ac-LDL uptake, Lectin binding, and CD31 staining, the typical characteristics of endothelial cells. It is suggested that cells at the second to third passages are suitable for in vitro and in vivo experiments to study the endothelial biology. Our protocol provides an effective means of identifying specific cellular and molecular mechanisms in endothelial cell physiopathology.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / cytology*
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Endothelium, Vascular
  • Mice