Mayo Clinic develops blood vessel cells from adult progenitor cells

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic scientists have shown for the first time that an adult stem cell variant circulating in adult human blood can be driven to form smooth muscle cells, which are key building blocks in blood vessel formation and also participate in coronary artery blockages. The findings are published in this week's edition of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, and will be presented simultaneously at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Berlin.

The researchers used platelet-derived growth factor BB (PDGF-BB) to convert previously undiscovered circulating smooth muscle progenitor cells (SPCs) into smooth muscle outgrowth cells (SOCs). SPCs produced presumably reside in the bone marrow and are stem cells that have started down the path of cell differentiation. Scientists had suspected the existence of circulating SPCs because animal studies had shown that many smooth muscle cells found in atherosclerotic plaques or in restenosis after angioplasty had been partially derived from bone marrow.

The Mayo Clinic study is the first to prove the existence of SPCs in humans. In the presence of PGDF-BB, the cells rapidly proliferated into smooth muscle cells. These cells also had adhesive properties potentially steering the cells to areas of vessel blockages. According to first author, David Simper, M.D., the study may be a significant step in the potential development of new vessels (angiogenesis) to provide blood circulation to diseased hearts. "Previous studies have shown that endothelial cells, which line blood vessels can be grown from progenitors in blood," says Dr. Simper. "Smooth muscle cells are the essential building blocks of arteries, and until now we have not had a way to create them".

These new findings may help cardiologists address in a new way some of the key problems in interventional cardiology. "About 30 percent of patients with heart disease who have stents implanted during a

Contact: Lee Aase
Mayo Clinic

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