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Cyclic Strain Promotes Expression and Vascular Tube Formation in iPSC-Derived Endothelial Cells


Vander Roest MJMark J , Merryman WDW David . Cellular and molecular bioengineering. 2020 5 7; 13(4). 369-377


INTRODUCTION: Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived endothelial cells (ECs) have the potential for therapeutic application in several cardiovascular diseases. Mechanical strain is known to regulate EC behavior and stem cell differentiation and may play a role in directing EC differentiation of iPSCs. , a long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), is known to affect ECs in several mechanically relevant pathologies and may play a role in this process as well. Therefore, we investigated expression changes of resulting from mechanical stimulation during EC differentiation, as well as functional effects on EC tube formation.

METHODS: iPSCs were subjected to 5% cyclic mechanical strain during EC differentiation. RT-PCR and flow cytometry were used to assess changes in mesoderm differentiation and gene expression in the final ECs as a result of strain. Functional outcomes of mechanically differentiated ECs were assessed with a tube formation assay and changes in . was also overexpressed in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) to assess its role in non–expressing ECs.

RESULTS: Mechanical strain promoted mesoderm differentiation, marked by increased expression of brachyury 24 h after initiation of differentiation. Strain also increased expression of , , VE-cadherin, and in differentiated ECs. Strain-differentiated ECs formed tube networks with higher junction and endpoint density than statically-differentiated ECs. Overexpression of in HUVECs resulted in similar patterns of tube formation.

CONCLUSIONS: expression is increased by mechanical strain and promotes tube branching in iPSC-derived ECs.