The Good: Endothelial cells make up the inner lining of blood and lymphatic vessels. Vascular endothelial cells specifically line the entire circulatory system including small blood vessels (microvascular), large blood vessels (macrovascular), and the heart. Here is a short list of their important functions in the human body:
- Control blood pressure by modulating vascular tone
- Prevent blood clotting or thrombosis
- Act as a semi-permeable barrier between the circulatory system and the surrounding tissue to control what factors enter into or out of the bloodstream
- Angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels from existing vessels, is a result of endothelial cell migration and proliferation
- Regulate immune and inflammatory responses
The Bad: Endothelial cell function can be disturbed by exposure to a number of factors including stress, infection, injury, or high blood pressure. Endothelial cell dysfunction plays a role in many serious and chronic human diseases including atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and cancer.
- Atherosclerosis: Thickening of arterial walls resulting from endothelial cell dysfunction. The endothelial cell barrier breaks down and infiltrating lipids and toxins cause an inflammatory response in endothelial cells. This results in the formation of lesions and plaques on arterial walls that block blood-flow.
- Thrombosis: Formation of blood clots in blood vessels. When endothelial cells are injured or dysfunctional, they cannot maintain their anticoagulant properties.
- Cancer: Endothelial cells that go astray (abnormal proliferation or malignant transformation) can cause pathological angiogenesis that promotes tumor growth. Many cancer tumors have evolved to secrete angiogenic factors like VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) that further promote endothelial cell dysfunction and angiogenesis.
The Source: Studying endothelial cells from different tissue sources will shed light on endothelial cell function in healthy and disease states. Lifeline Cell Technology® provides an arsenal of endothelial cell lines and cell culture media kits that will allow you to study healthy human endothelial cells from the following sources:
- Umbilical vein (HUVEC)
- Aorta endothelial cells
- Coronary artery endothelial cells
- Pulmonary artery endothelial cells
- Dermal microvascular endothelial cells
- Iliac artery endothelial cells
All cell lines mentioned above are capable of at least 15 population doublings in culture and are positive for the von Willebrand factor and negative for smooth muscle α-actin. They can be used to study atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases, general vascular biology research, angiogenesis, wound healing and cell migration.
These cell lines achieve optimal performance in Lifeline® VascuLife® EnGS Endothelial Cell Culture Medium, or VascuLife® VEGF Endothelial Cell Culture Medium which are low-serum formulas that are optimized for large-vessel endothelial cell culture. The VascuLife® kits comes with VascuLife® basal medium plus their respective LifeFactors Kits. Lifeline® also provides a specialized culture medium for microvascular endothelial cells (VascuLife® EnGS Mv) or VascuLife® VEGF Mv that contain 5% serum.
The Proof: Lifeline® cell lines have been validated in a number of published studies. Here are a few highlights:
Endothelial Cell Biology
- Stroka et al. looked at the inflammatory response in Lifeline® human umbilical cord endothelial cells (HUVECs) treated with the cytokine TNF-α. TNF-α exposure caused specific changes in HUVEC morphology, biomechanics, migration, and cytoskeletal dynamics, all of which seemed to be functionally linked. (1)
- Voloshyna et al. studied the atheroprotective functions of resveratrol on cholesterol metabolism in human macrophages and Lifeline® human arterial endothelial cells (both cell types exist in the walls of arteries). They discovered that resveratrol regulates expression of numerous genes involved in cholesterol metabolism in both cell types. (3)
- Neill et al. used breast cancer cell lines and HUVECs to show that the proteoglycan Decorin can inhibit tumor angiogenesis by reducing expression of pro-angiogenic factors VEGFA and (HIF)-1α and inducing expression of angiostatic factors thrombospondin-1 and TIMP3. (2)
What’s “The Proof” that you’ve discovered in the endothelial cell field? Let us know and we might feature your research in a future blog post!
(1) Stroka et al. Eur Biophys J. 2012 Nov;41(11):939-47.
(2) Voloshyna et al. Vardiovascular pharmacology, 2012.
(3) Neill et al. JBC. 2012