Differential sensitivity of assays for determining vein endothelial cell senescence


In vivo endothelialization of polymer-based cardiovascular implant materials is a promising strategy to reduce the risk of platelet adherence and the subsequent thrombus formation and implant failure. However, endothelial cells from elderly patients are likely to exhibit a senescent phenotype that may counteract endothelialization. The senescence status of cells should therefore be investigated prior to implantation of devices designed to be integrated in the blood vessel wall. Here, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were cultivated up to passage (P) 4, 10 and 26/27 to determine the population doubling time and the senescence status by four different methods. Determination of the senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity (SA-β-Gal) was carried out by colorimetric staining and microscopy (i), as well as by photometric quantification (ii), and the expression of senescence-associated nuclear proteins p16 and p21 as well as the proliferation marker Ki67 was assessed by immunostaining (iii), and by flow cytometry (iv). The population doubling time of P27-cells was remarkably greater (103±65 h) compared to P4-cells (24±3 h) and P10-cell (37±15 h). Among the four different methods tested, the photometric SA-β-Gal activity assay and the flow cytometric determination of p16 and Ki67 were most effective in discriminating P27-cells from P4- and P10-cells. These methods combined with functional endothelial cell analyses might aid predictions on the performance of implant endothelialization in vivo.
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