Multipotent stem/progenitor cells localize perivascularly in many organs and vessel walls. These tissue-resident stem/progenitor cells differentiate into vascular endothelial cells, pericytes, and other mesenchymal lineages, and participate in physiological maintenance and repair of vasculatures. In this study, we characterized stromal vascular cells obtained through the explant culture method from three different vessel walls in humans: arterial wall (ART; >500 μm in diameter), venous wall (VN; >500 μm in diameter), and small vessels in adipose tissue (SV; arterioles and venules, <100 μm in diameter). These were examined for functionality and compared with adipose-derived stem/stromal cells (ASCs). All stromal vascular cells of different origins presented fibroblast-like morphology and we could not visually discriminate one population from another. Flow cytometry showed that the cultured population heterogeneously expressed a variety of surface antigens associated with stem/progenitor cells, but CD105 was expressed by most cells in all groups, suggesting that the cells generally shared the characteristics of mesenchymal stem cells. Our histological and flow cytometric data suggested that the main population of vessel wall-derived stromal vascular cells were CD34+/CD31- and came from the tunica adventitia and areola tissue surrounding the adventitia. CD271 (p75NTR) was expressed by the vasa vasorum in the VN adventitia and by a limited population in the adventitia of SV. All three populations differentiated into multiple lineages as did ASCs. ART cells induced the largest quantity of calcium formation in the osteogenic medium, whereas ASCs showed the greatest adipogenic differentiation. SV and VN stromal cells had greater potency for network formation than did ART stromal cells. In conclusion, the three stromal vascular populations exhibited differential functional properties. Our results have clinical implications for vascular diseases such as arterial wall calcification and possible applications to regenerative therapies involving each vessel wall-resident stromal population.
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