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Endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) are a type of stem cell used in the treatment of atherosclerosis, vascular injury and regeneration. At present, most of the EPCs studied are from human and mouse, whereas the study of poultry-derived EPCs has rarely been reported. In the present study, chicken bone marrow-derived EPCs were isolated and studied at the cellular level using immunofluorescence and RT-PCR.
We found that the majority of chicken EPCs were spindle shaped. The growth-curves of chicken EPCs at passages (P) 1, -5 and -9 were typically “S”-shaped. The viability of chicken EPCs, before and after cryopreservation was 92.2% and 81.1%, respectively. Thus, cryopreservation had no obvious effects on the viability of chicken EPCs. Dil-ac-LDL and FITC-UAE-1 uptake assays and immunofluorescent detection of the cell surface markers CD34, CD133, VEGFR-2 confirmed that the cells obtained in vitro were EPCs. Observation of endothelial-specific Weibel-Palade bodies using transmission electron microscopy further confirmed that the cells were of endothelial lineage. In addition, chicken EPCs differentiated into endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells upon induction with VEGF and PDGF-BB, respectively, suggesting that the chicken EPCs retained multipotency in vitro.
These results suggest that chicken EPCs not only have strong self-renewal capacity, but also the potential to differentiate into endothelial and smooth muscle cells. This research provides theoretical basis and experimental evidence for potential therapeutic application of endothelial progenitor cells in the treatment of atherosclerosis, vascular injury and diabetic complications.