Whatever their differentiation status, human progenitor derived - or mature - endothelial cells induce osteoblastic differentiation of bone marrow stromal cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) from bone marrow and outgrowth endothelial cells (OEC) from peripheral blood are considered as attractive cell types for applications in regenerative medicine aiming to build up complex vascularized tissue-engineered constructs. MSC provide several advantages such as the potential to differentiate to osteoblasts and to support the neovascularization process by release of proangiogenic factors. On the other hand, the neovascularization process can be actively supported by OEC forming perfused vascular structures after co-implantation with other cell types. In this study the formation of angiogenic structures in vitro was investigated in cocultures of MSC and OEC, cultured either in the medium for osteogenic differentiation of MSC (ODM) or in the medium for OEC cultivation endothelial cell growth medium-2 (EGM2 Bullet Kit). After 2 weeks, cocultures in EGM2 formed more microvessel-like structures compared to cocultures in ODM as demonstrated by immunofluorescence staining for the endothelial marker CD31. Increased expression of CD31 and CD146 in quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction as well as a higher percentage of CD31- and CD146-positive cells in flow cytometry indicated a beneficial influence of EGM2 on endothelial cell growth and function. In addition, the improved formation of vascular structures in EGM2 correlates with higher levels of the proangiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor and platelet-derived growth factor in the supernatant of cocultures as well as in monocultures of MSC when cultivated in EGM-2. Nevertheless, ODM was more suitable for the differentiation of MSC to osteoblastic lineages in the cocultures, whereas EGM2 favored factors involved in vessel stabilization by pericytes. In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of medium components for cell interaction triggering the formation of angiogenic structures.