Characterization of gene expression changes in human neural stem cells and endothelial cells modeling a neurovascular microenvironment

Brain Res Bull. 2020 May;158:9-19. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2020.02.008. Epub 2020 Feb 21.


Angiogenesis-mediated neovascularization correlates with recovery after intracerebral implantation of neural stem cells (NSCs) in stroke. To elucidate NSCs' mechanism of action, it is essential to understand how these interact with the brain's vasculature after implantation. Using an all-human endothelial cell (EC, D3 cell line) and NSC (STROC05 and CTXOE03) co-culture model, fluorescently activated cell sorting (FACS) was used to isolate each cell type for a comparison of gene expression between monocultures of undifferentiated proliferating and differentiated non-proliferating cells. Gene expression for angiogenic factors (vascular endothelial growth factor, platelet derived growth factor, angiopoietin), as well as cell survival (brain derived neurotrophic factor, fibroblast growth factor) and migration (stromal cell-derived factor-1a) were measured and contrasted with the corresponding receptors on each cell type. The cellular source of extracellular matrix defining the basement membrane (vitronectin, fibronectin, laminin, collagen I and IV) and neuropil (hyaluronic acid, aggrecan, neurocan, thrombospondin, nidogen and brain associated link protein-1) was evaluated for NSCs and ECs. Co-culturing dramatically changed the expression profiles of each cell type in comparison to undifferentiated, but also differentiated cells. These results indicate that monocultures provide a poor model to investigate the cellular signaling involved in a tissue repair response. Co-cultures of NSCs and ECs forming vasculature-like structures (VLS) provide a more complex model to investigate NSC-induced neovascularization. These in vitro studies are essential to tease out individual cell signaling in NSCs and ECs to develop a mechanistic understanding of the efficacy of NSCs as a therapeutic for stroke.

Keywords: Angiogenesis; Basement membrane; Endothelial cell; Extracellular matrix; Neural stem cell; Neurovascular unit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / biosynthesis
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Cellular Microenvironment / physiology*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / biosynthesis
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Microvessels / cytology
  • Microvessels / metabolism*
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neurovascular Coupling / physiology*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors