Venous and Arterial Endothelial Cells from Human Umbilical Cords: Potential Cell Sources for Cardiovascular Research


Although cardiovascular devices are mostly implanted in arteries or to replace arteries, in vitro studies on implant endothelialization are commonly performed with human umbilical cord-derived venous endothelial cells (HUVEC). In light of considerable differences, both morphologically and functionally, between arterial and venous endothelial cells, we here compare HUVEC and human umbilical cord-derived arterial endothelial cells (HUAEC) regarding their equivalence as an endothelial cell in vitro model for cardiovascular research. No differences were found in either for the tested parameters. The metabolic activity and lactate dehydrogenase, an indicator for the membrane integrity, slightly decreased over seven days of cultivation upon normalization to the cell number. The amount of secreted nitrite and nitrate, as well as prostacyclin per cell, also decreased slightly over time. Thromboxane B2 was secreted in constant amounts per cell at all time points. The Von Willebrand factor remained mainly intracellularly up to seven days of cultivation. In contrast, collagen and laminin were secreted into the extracellular space with increasing cell density. Based on these results one might argue that both cell types are equally suited for cardiovascular research. However, future studies should investigate further cell functionalities, and whether arterial endothelial cells from implantation-relevant areas, such as coronary arteries in the heart, are superior to umbilical cord-derived endothelial cells.
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