Multidistrict human mesenchymal vascular cells: Pluripotency and stemness characteristics

Gianandrea Pasquinelli, Annalisa Pacilli, Francesco Alviano, Laura Foroni, Francesca Ricci, Sabrina Valente, Catia Orrico, Giacomo Lanzoni, Marina Buzzi, Pier Luigi Tazzari, Pasqualepaolo Pagliaro, Andrea Stella, Gian Paolo Bagnara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background aims. The presence of ectopic tissues in the pathologic artery wall raises the issue of whether multipotent stem cells may reside in the vasculature itself. Recently mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) have been isolated from different human vascular segments (VW MSC), belying the previous view that the vessel wall is a relatively quiescent tissue. Methods. Resident multipotent cells were recovered from fresh arterial segments (aortic arches, thoracic and femoral arteries) collected in a tissue-banking facility and used to establish an in situ and in vitro study of the stemness features and multipotency of these multidistrict MSC populations. Results. Notch-1+, Stro-1 +, Sca-1+ and Oct-4+ cells were distributed along an arterial wall vasculogenic niche. Multidistrict VW MSC homogeneously expressed markers of stemness (Stro-1, Notch-1 and Oct-4) and MSC lineages (CD44, CD90, CD105, CD73, CD29 and CD166) whilst they were negative for hematopoietic and endothelial markers (CD34, CD45, CD31 and vWF). Each VW MSC population had characteristics of stem cells, i.e. a high efflux capability for Hoechst 33342 dye and the ability to form spheroids when grown in suspension and generate colonies when seeded at low density. Again, VW MSC cultured in induction media exhibited adipogenic, chondrogenic and leiomyogenic potential but less propensity to osteogenic differentiation, as documented by histochemical, immunohistochemical, molecular and electron microscopy analysis. Conclusions. Overall, these findings may enlighten the physiopathologic mechanisms of vascular wall diseases as well as having potential implications for cellular, genetic and tissue engineering approaches to treating vascular pathologies when these are unresponsive to medical and surgical therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-287
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Human artery wall
  • Leiomyogenesis
  • Multiorgan donors
  • Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation
  • Cancer Research


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