Patsch C, Challet-Meylan L, Thoma EC, Urich E, Heckel T, O'Sullivan JF, Grainger SJ, Kapp FG, Sun L, Christensen K, Xia Y, Florido MH, He W, Pan W, Prummer M, Warren CR, Jakob-Roetne R, Certa U, Jagasia R, Freskgård PO, Adatto I, Kling D, Huang P, Zon LI, Chaikof EL, Gerszten RE, Graf M, Iacone R, Cowan CA. 2015. Generation of vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells from human pluripotent stem cells. Nature cell biology. 17(8):994-1003. Pubmed: 26214132 DOI:10.1038/ncb3205


The use of human pluripotent stem cells for in vitro disease modelling and clinical applications requires protocols that convert these cells into relevant adult cell types. Here, we report the rapid and efficient differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells. We found that GSK3 inhibition and BMP4 treatment rapidly committed pluripotent cells to a mesodermal fate and subsequent exposure to VEGF-A or PDGF-BB resulted in the differentiation of either endothelial or vascular smooth muscle cells, respectively. Both protocols produced mature cells with efficiencies exceeding 80% within six days. On purification to 99% via surface markers, endothelial cells maintained their identity, as assessed by marker gene expression, and showed relevant in vitro and in vivo functionality. Global transcriptional and metabolomic analyses confirmed that the cells closely resembled their in vivo counterparts. Our results suggest that these cells could be used to faithfully model human disease.

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The Zon laboratory aims to dissect how assaults to the hematopoietic system cause severe diseases such as leukemias, lymphomas, and anemias. They investigate hematopoietic development and disease using chemical screens, genetic screens, and analysis of novel transgenic lines in zebrafish.

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