In vitro vasculogenesis and angiogenesis of mouse embryonic stem cells

Zong jin Li, Chen Yang, Feng wu Tang, Zhi hua Zhang, Bin Xu, Qin jun Zhao, Ren chi Yang, Zack Z. Wang, Zhong chao Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE: To explore an optional condition to induce mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells to differentiate into endothelial cells and to establish in vitro models of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. METHODS: Mouse ES cells were cultured in differentiation medium containing a cocktail of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and erythropoietin (EPO) in 1% methylcellulose to induce formation of embryoid bodies (EBs). At day 11, EBs were harvested and suspended in rat-tail collagen type I with the same cocktail of cytokines cultured for three additional days. The differentiation of ES cells into endothelial cells, processes of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis were examined using immunostaining of EBs slices and whole-mount immunocytochemistry of EBs with monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) and alpha-smooth muscle actin (SMA). RESULTS: Under appropriate culture conditions; ES cells spontaneously differentiated and formed EBs containing vascular structures and tubular channels, which were positive for PECAM-1 co-differentiated with smooth muscle. When not treated with angiogenic growth factors, PECAM-1-positive cells could not organize into vascular structures of 11-day-old EBs. In the presence of angiogenic factors 11-day old EBs embedded into type I collagen, and rapidly developed an endothelial networks. Whole-mount immunocytochemistry of collagen gel with anti-PECAM-1 antibody showed the formation of primary vascular structures sprouting from EBs. Quantitative analysis revealed that 100 microg/ml thalidomide significantly reduced the number and length of EBs endothelial sprouting. CONCLUSIONS: Mouse ES cells can differentiate into endothelial cells combined with smooth muscle differentiation during EBs formation and further develop endothelial outgrowths after EBs embedded into collagen, which respectively recapitulate vasculogenesis, angiogenesis, and arteriogenesis processes in vivo. The models provide a useful tool to investigate vasculogenesis, angiogenesis, and arteriogenesis mechanisms and evaluate the effects of angiogenic and angiostatic agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-66
Number of pages5
JournalZhongguo yi xue ke xue yuan xue bao. Acta Academiae Medicinae Sinicae.
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Li, Z. J., Yang, C., Tang, F. W., Zhang, Z. H., Xu, B., Zhao, Q. J., ... Han, Z. C. (2005). In vitro vasculogenesis and angiogenesis of mouse embryonic stem cells. Zhongguo yi xue ke xue yuan xue bao. Acta Academiae Medicinae Sinicae., 27(1), 62-66.