Age-related morphology and function of human arterial endothelial cells


Endothelialization of cardiovascular implants is regarded as a promising strategy for long-term compatibility. While umbilical vein endothelial cells are typically applied in research, human arterial endothelial cells (HAEC) from elderly donors would be the obvious source for autologous cellularization strategies. In our approach, HAEC from 16 donors of varying age (16–63 years) were divided into two groups (<30 years and >30 years) and analyzed regarding morphology, viability, proliferation, function and senescence status. No age-related differences were found regarding morphology, viability, density, prostacyclin and nitrite secretion or collagen and laminin production. However, the metabolic activity was slightly decreased (p = 0.0374) and the membrane integrity marginally impaired (p = 0.0404) in cells from older donors. Two out of three senescence assays detected more senescence markers in cells from older donors. According to the assays applied here, HAEC from young and elderly donors up to the age of 63 years could be judged equally suitable for autologous cellularization strategies. However, this finding should be regarded with caution due to the extremely large variability between individual donors. Further studies comprising a larger sample size are necessary to investigate this issue more thoroughly.
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