Engineered endothelial progenitor cells that overexpress prostacyclin protect vascular cells

Qi Liu, Yutao Xi, Toya Terry, Shui Ping So, Anita Mohite, Jia Zhang, Geru Wu, Xiaobing Liu, Jie Cheng, Ke He Ruan, James T. Willerson, Richard A.F. Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Prostacyclin (PGI2) is a potent vasodilator and important mediator of vascular homeostasis; however, its clinical use is limited because of its short (<2-min) half-life. Thus, we hypothesize that the use of engineered endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) that constitutively secrete high levels of PGI2 may overcome this limitation of PGI2 therapy. A cDNA encoding COX-1-10aa-PGIS, which links human cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) to prostacyclin synthase (PGIS), was delivered via nucleofection into outgrowth EPCs derived from rat bone marrow mononuclear cells. PGI2-secreting strains (PGI2-EPCs) were established by continuous subculturing of transfected cells under G418 selection. Genomic PCR, RT-PCR, and Western blot analyses confirmed the overexpression of COX-1-10aa-PGIS in PGI2-EPCs. PGI2-EPCs secreted significantly higher levels of PGI2 in vitro than native EPCs (P<0.05) and showed higher intrinsic angiogenic capability; conditioned medium (CM) from PGI2-EPCs promoted better tube formation than CM from native EPCs (P<0.05). Cell- and paracrine-mediated in vitro angiogenesis was attenuated when COX-1-10aa-PGIS protein expression was knocked down. Whole-cell patch-clamp studies showed that 4-aminopyridine-sensitive K + current density was increased significantly in rat smooth muscle cells (rSMCs) cocultured under hypoxia with PGI2-EPCs (7.50±1.59pA/pF; P<0.05) compared with rSMCs cocultured with native EPCs (3.99±1.26pA/pF). In conclusion, we successfully created EPC strains that overexpress an active novel enzyme resulting in consistent secretion of PGI2. PGI2-EPCs showed enhanced intrinsic proangiogenic properties and provided favorable paracrine-mediated cellular protections, including promoting in vitro angiogenesis of native EPCs and hyperpolarization of SMCs under hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2907-2916
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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