Endothelial fate and angiogenic properties of human CD34+ progenitor cells in zebrafish

Ombretta Pozzoli, Pietro Vella, Grazia Iaffaldano, Valeria Parente, Paolo Devanna, Marta Lacovich, Carla Lora Lamia, Umberto Fascio, Daniela Longoni, Franco Cotelli, Maurizio C. Capogrossi, Maurizio Pesce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective-: The vascular competence of human-derived hematopoietic progenitors for postnatal vascularization is still poorly characterized. It is unclear whether, in the absence of ischemia, hematopoietic progenitors participate in neovascularization and whether they play a role in new blood vessel formation by incorporating into developing vessels or by a paracrine action. Methods and Results-: In the present study, human cord blood-derived CD34+ (hCD34+) cells were transplanted into pre- and postgastrulation zebrafish embryos and in an adult vascular regeneration model induced by caudal fin amputation. When injected before gastrulation, hCD34 + cells cosegregated with the presumptive zebrafish hemangioblasts, characterized by Scl and Gata2 expression, in the anterior and posterior lateral mesoderm and were involved in early development of the embryonic vasculature. These morphogenetic events occurred without apparent lineage reprogramming, as shown by CD45 expression. When transplanted postgastrulation, hCD34+ cells were recruited into developing vessels, where they exhibited a potent paracrine proangiogenic action. Finally, hCD34+ cells rescued vascular defects induced by Vegf-c in vivo targeting and enhanced vascular repair in the zebrafish fin amputation model. Conclusion-: These results indicate an unexpected developmental ability of human-derived hematopoietic progenitors and support the hypothesis of an evolutionary conservation of molecular pathways involved in endothelial progenitor differentiation in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1589-1597
Number of pages9
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • angiogenesis
  • embryology
  • endothelium
  • stem cells
  • vascular biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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