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In vitro differentiation of human skin-derived multipotent stromal cells into putative endothelial-like cells

Radhakrishnan Vishnubalaji13, Muthurangan Manikandan1, May Al-Nbaheen1, Balamuthu Kadalmani3, Abdullah Aldahmash12 and Nehad M Alajez1*

Author affiliations

1 Stem Cell Unit, Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh 11461, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

2 KMEB, Department of Endocrinology, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

3 Department of Animal Science, School of Life Sciences, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli 620024, India

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Citation and License

BMC Developmental Biology 2012, 12:7  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-12-7

Published: 27 January 2012



Multipotent stem cells have been successfully isolated from various tissues and are currently utilized for tissue-engineering and cell-based therapies. Among the many sources, skin has recently emerged as an attractive source for multipotent cells because of its abundance. Recent literature showed that skin stromal cells (SSCs) possess mesoderm lineage differentiation potential; however, the endothelial differentiation and angiogenic potential of SSC remains elusive. In our study, SSCs were isolated from human neonatal foreskin (hNFSSCs) and adult dermal skin (hADSSCs) using explants cultures and were compared with bone marrow (hMSC-TERT) and adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hADMSCs) for their potential differentiation into osteoblasts, adipocytes, and endothelial cells.


Concordant with previous studies, both MSCs and SSCs showed similar morphology, surface protein expression, and were able to differentiate into osteoblasts and adipocytes. Using an endothelial induction culture system combined with an in vitro matrigel angiogenesis assay, hNFSSCs and hADSSCs exhibited the highest tube-forming capability, which was similar to those formed by human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC), with hNFSSCs forming the most tightly packed, longest, and largest diameter tubules among the three cell types. CD146 was highly expressed on hNFSSCs and HUVEC followed by hADSSCs, and hMSC-TERT, while its expression was almost absent on hADMSCs. Similarly, higher vascular density (based on the expression of CD31, CD34, vWF, CD146 and SMA) was observed in neonatal skin, followed by adult dermal skin and adipose tissue. Thus, our preliminary data indicated a plausible relationship between vascular densities, and the expression of CD146 on multipotent cells derived from those tissues.


Our data is the first to demonstrate that human dermal skin stromal cells can be differentiated into endothelial lineage. Hence, SSCs represents a novel source of stem/stromal cells for tissue regeneration and the vascularization of engineered tissues. Moreover, the CD146 investigations suggested that the microenvironmental niche might contribute to direct stromal cells multipotency toward certain lineages, which warrants further investigation.