Comparison of Fibronectin and Collagen in Supporting the Isolation and Expansion of Endothelial Progenitor Cells from Human Adult Peripheral Blood

Elena Colombo, Francesca Calcaterra, Monica Cappelletti, Domenico Mavilio, Silvia Della Bella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background:Endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs), are circulating endothelial progenitor cells increasingly studied in various diseases because of their potential for clinical translation. Experimental procedures for their ex vivo culture still lack standardization. In particular two different extracellular matrix proteins, either fibronectin or collagen, are commonly used by different Authors for coating plastic plates, both allowing to obtain cells that have all the features of ECFCs. However, possible differences in the impact of each substrate on ECFCs have not been analysed, so far. Therefore, in this study we investigated whether fibronectin and collagen may differentially affect ECFC cultures.Methodology/Principal Findings:ECFCs were isolated and cultured from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of healthy donors. The impact of fibronectin compared with collagen as the only variable of the experimental procedure was analysed separately in the phase of isolation of ECFC colonies and in the following phase of cell expansion. In the isolation phase, although similar frequencies of colonies were obtained on the two substrates, ECFC colonies appeared some days earlier when mononuclear cells were seeded on fibronectin rather than collagen. In the expansion phase, ECFCs cultured on collagen showed a longer lifespan and higher cell yields compared with ECFCs cultured on fibronectin, possibly related to the higher levels of IL-6 and IL-8 measured in their supernatants. ECFCs cultured on both substrates showed similar immunophenotype and ability for in vitro tube formation.Conclusions/Significance:Overall, the results of this study indicate that, although both fibronectin and collagen efficiently sustain ECFC cultures, each of them brings some advantages within individual steps of the entire process. We suggest that colony isolation performed on fibronectin followed by cell expansion performed on collagen may represent a novel and the most efficient strategy to obtain ECFCs from adult peripheral blood samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere66734
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 18 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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