Volume 96 (2004) Issue 2 Pages 208-218
Neural stem cells (NSCs) were isolated from the mouse cortex on embryonic day 12.5 and cultured by neurosphere formation in serum-free medium in the presence of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). When NSCs were inoculated in collagen gels with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) and bFGF and incubated for 10 days, vessel-like tube structures consisting of PECAM-1- or VE-cadherin-immunoreactive cells were formed in the gels. Moreover, the formation of vascular tube-like structures with a massive investment of α-smooth muscle actin-immunoreactive or GFAP-immunoreactive cells was occasionally observed, indicating angiogenesis identical to cerebral vascular development in vivo. To examine whether NSCs are capable of producing endothelial cells, differentiation was induced by the addition of 10% FBS after bFGF withdrawal. Most of the cells displayed a cobblestone-like morphology. Immunological analyses and RT-PCR indicated that NSCs expressed endothelial cell-specific marker proteins such as PECAM-1, VE-cadherin, and Flk-1; and these expressions were maintained or up-regulated during differentiation. Similar tube structures were also observed when the differentiated cells were inoculated in collagen gels and incubated for 5 days. These results suggested that NSCs give rise to two types of vascular cells, endothelial cells and mural cells in vitro, which have the ability to form vascular tubes.