Functional differences between placental micro- and macrovascular endothelial colony-forming cells

Ioana Solomon, Megan O’Reilly, Lavinia Ionescu, Rajesh S. Alphonse, Saima Rajabali, Shumei Zhong, Arul Vadivel, W. Chris Shelley, Mervin C. Yoder, Bernard Thébaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Alterations in the development of the placental vasculature can lead to pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia. Currently, the cause of preeclampsia is unknown, and there are no specific prevention or treatment strategies. Further insight into the placental vasculature may aid in identifying causal factors. Endothelial colony-formingcells (ECFCs) area subset ofendothelial progenitor cells capableof self-renewal and de novo vessel formation in vitro. We hypothesized that ECFCs exist in the micro- and macrovasculature of the normal, term human placenta. Human placentas were collected fromterm pregnancies delivered by cesarean section (n = 16). Placental micro- and macrovasculature was collected from the maternal and fetal side of the placenta, respectively, and ECFCs were isolated and characterized. ECFCs were CD31+, CD105+, CD144+, CD146+, CD14-, and CD45-, took up 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'- tetramethyl-indocarbocyanine perchlorate-labeled acetylated low-density lipoprotein, and bound Ulex europaeus agglutinin 1. In vitro, macrovascular ECFCs had a greater potential to generate highproliferative colonies and formedmore complex capillary-like networks on Matrigel compared with microvascular ECFCs. In contrast, in vivo assessment demonstrated thatmicrovascular ECFCs had a greater potential to formvessels.Macrovascular ECFCs were of fetal origin, whereasmicrovascular ECFCs were of maternal origin. ECFCs exist in themicro- and macrovasculature of the normal, term human placenta. Although macrovascular ECFCs demonstrated greater vessel and colony-forming potency in vitro, this did not translate in vivo,wheremicrovascular ECFCs exhibited a greater vesselforming ability. These important findings contribute to the current understanding of normal placental vascular development and may aid in identifying factors involved in preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalStem Cells Translational Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Angiogenesis
  • Endothelial progenitor cell
  • Placental vasculature
  • Preeclampsia
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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