Fibrosis is mediated partly by extracellular matrix-depositing fibroblasts in the heart. Although these mesenchymal cells are reported to have multiple embryonic origins, the functional consequence of this heterogeneity is unknown.
Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells (hiPSC-ECs) are promising for treatment of vascular diseases. However, hiPSC-ECs purified based on CD31 expression are comprised of arterial, venous, and lymphatic subtypes. It is unclear whether hiPSC-ECs are heterogeneous in nature, and whether there may be functional benefits of enriching for specific subtypes. Therefore, we sought to characterize the hiPSC-ECs and enrich for each subtype, and demonstrate whether such enrichment would have functional significance. The hiPSC-ECs were generated from differentiation of hiPSCs using vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A and bone morphogenetic protein-4. The hiPSC-ECs were purified based on positive expression of CD31. Subsequently, we sought to enrich for each subtype. Arterial hiPSC-ECs were induced using higher concentrations of VEGF-A and 8-bromoadenosine-3:5-cyclic monophosphate in the media, whereas lower concentrations of VEGF-A favored venous subtype. VEGF-C and angiopoietin-1 promoted the expression of lymphatic phenotype. Upon FACS purification based on CD31+ expression, the hiPSC-EC population was observed to display typical endothelial surface markers and functions. However, the hiPSC-EC population was heterogeneous in that they displayed arterial, venous, and to a lesser degree, lymphatic lineage markers. Upon comparing vascular formation in matrigel plugs in vivo, we observed that arterial enriched hiPSC-ECs formed a more extensive capillary network in this model, by comparison to a heterogeneous population of hiPSC-ECs. This study demonstrates that FACS purification of CD31+ hiPSC-ECs produces a diverse population of ECs. Refining the differentiation methods can enrich for subtype-specific hiPSC-ECs with functional benefits of enhancing neovascularization.
Mechanisms for sex- and depot-specific fat formation are unclear. We investigated the role of retinoic acid (RA) production by aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (Aldh1a1, -a2, and -a3), the major RA-producing enzymes, on sex-specific fat depot formation. Female Aldh1a1(-/-) mice, but not males, were resistant to high-fat (HF) diet-induced visceral adipose formation, whereas subcutaneous fat was reduced similarly in both groups. Sexual dimorphism in visceral fat (VF) was attributable to elevated adipose triglyceride lipase (Atgl) protein expression localized in clusters of multilocular uncoupling protein 1 (Ucp1)-positive cells in female Aldh1a1(-/-) mice compared with males. Estrogen decreased Aldh1a3 expression, limiting conversion of retinaldehyde (Rald) to RA. Rald effectively induced Atgl levels via nongenomic mechanisms, demonstrating indirect regulation by estrogen. Experiments in transgenic mice expressing an RA receptor response element (RARE-lacZ) revealed HF diet-induced RARE activation in VF of females but not males. In humans, stromal cells isolated from VF of obese subjects also expressed higher levels of Aldh1 enzymes compared with lean subjects. Our data suggest that an HF diet mediates VF formation through a sex-specific autocrine Aldh1 switch, in which Rald-mediated lipolysis in Ucp1-positive visceral adipocytes is replaced by RA-mediated lipid accumulation. Our data suggest that Aldh1 is a potential target for sex-specific antiobesity therapy.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is characterized by reduced limb blood flow due to arterial obstruction. Current treatment includes surgical or endovascular procedures, the failure of which may result in amputation of the affected limb. An emerging therapeutic approach is cell therapy to enhance angiogenesis and tissue survival. Small clinical trials of adult progenitor cell therapies have generated promising results, although large randomized clinical trials using well-defined cells have not been performed. Intriguing pre-clinical studies have been performed using vascular cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) or human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). In particular, hiPSC-derived vascular cells may be a superior approach for vascular regeneration. The regulatory roadmap to the clinic will be arduous, but achievable with further understanding of the reprogramming and differentiation processes; with meticulous attention to quality control; and perseverance.
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