Low Oxygen Tension Enhances Endothelial Fate of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells
Objective—A critical regulator of the developing or regenerating vasculature is low oxygen tension. Precise elucidation of the role of low oxygen environments on endothelial commitment from human pluripotent stem cells necessitates controlled in vitro differentiation environments.
Approach and Results—We used a feeder-free, 2-dimensional differentiation system in which we could monitor accurately dissolved oxygen levels during human pluripotent stem cell differentiation toward early vascular cells (EVCs). We found that oxygen uptake rate of differentiating human pluripotent stem cells is lower in 5% O2 compared with atmospheric conditions. EVCs differentiated in 5% O2 had an increased vascular endothelial cadherin expression with clusters of vascular endothelial cadherin+ cells surrounded by platelet-derived growth factor β+ cells. When we assessed the temporal effects of low oxygen differentiation environments, we determined that low oxygen environments during the early stages of EVC differentiation enhance endothelial lineage commitment. EVCs differentiated in 5% O2 exhibited an increased expression of vascular endothelial cadherin and CD31 along with their localization to the membrane, enhanced lectin binding and acetylated low-density lipoprotein uptake, rapid cord-like structure formation, and increased expression of arterial endothelial cell markers. Inhibition of reactive oxygen species generation during the early stages of differentiation abrogated the endothelial inductive effects of the low oxygen environments.
Conclusions—Low oxygen tension during early stages of EVC derivation induces endothelial commitment and maturation through the accumulation of reactive oxygen species, highlighting the importance of regulating oxygen tensions during human pluripotent stem cell-vascular differentiation.
- Received December 8, 2013.
- Accepted January 27, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.