Canine retinal angioblasts are multipotent

Gerard A. Lutty, Carol Merges, Rhonda Grebe, Tarl Prow, D. Scott McLeod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to culture and characterize endothelial cells and angioblasts, vascular precursors, from adult and neonatal dog retina and determine if angioblasts are committed to endothelial cell lineage or have the potential to be multipotent, i.e. express phenotypic characteristics of other vascular cell types. Endothelial cells were established from adult dog retina (ADREC) by the technique of Gitlin and D'Amore. For angioblasts, pieces of neonatal day 2 (P2) avascular peripheral retina were placed under coverslips until sufficient cells had explanted. All cells were maintained initially on hyaluronic acid (HA)/fibronectin (FN) substratum. Neonatal canine retinal angioblasts (NCRA) were maintained initially on retinal-derived growth factor with alpha-amino adipic acid to inhibit growth of Muller cells. Cell lines were characterized by enzyme histochemistry [menadione-dependent alpha glycerophosphate dehydrogenase (αGPDH), marker for angioblasts] and immunocytochemistry. Once characterized, cells were grown on FN, or collagens I or IV substrata and fed platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) or fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2). The phenotypic expression of a marker for endothelial cells [acetylated LDL (acLDL) uptake] or a marker for pericytes and smooth muscle cells, production of alpha smooth muscle actin (αSMA), was evaluated under those conditions. The canine retinal cell lines that were established had the following characteristics when maintained on serum and a retinal extract. Angioblasts had low expression of vWf and VEGF-R2 (two markers for canine endothelial cells), and very low uptake of acLDL but high expression of αGPDH and adenosine A2a receptors (A2aR) (two markers for canine angioblasts in vivo). ADREC had high expression of endothelial cell markers (vWf, VEGF-R2, and acLDL uptake) but minimal expression of αGPDH and A2aR. Both angioblasts and endothelial cells expressed CXCR4, a marker for hemangioblasts. Angioblasts grown on any of the substrata in the presence of FGF-2 had high uptake of acLDL and low expression of αSMA, while those grown in the presence of PDGF-BB had high expression of αSMA and low uptake of acLDL. In conclusion, angioblasts cultured from peripheral vascular retina have low expression of endothelial cell markers and high αGPDH and A2aR, markers for canine angioblasts in vivo. Angioblasts will internalize acLDL when maintained on FGF-2 and express αSMA when maintained on PDGF-BB, suggesting that they have the potential to become endothelial cells or pericytes, i.e. are multipotent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-193
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental eye research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • angioblasts
  • endothelial cells
  • fibroblast growth factor-2
  • pericytes
  • platelet-derived growth factor-BB
  • vasculogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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