Hypoxia promotes a perinatal-like progenitor state in the adult murine epicardium

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
A. SayedM. Valente


The epicardium is a reservoir of progenitors that give rise to coronary vasculature and stroma during development and mediates cardiac vascular repair in lower vertebrates. However, its role as a source of progenitors in the adult mammalian heart remains unclear due to lack of clear lineage markers and single-cell culture systems to elucidate epicardial progeny cell fate. We found that in vivo exposure of mice to physiological hypoxia induced adult epicardial cells to re-enter the cell cycle and to express a subset of developmental genes. Multiplex transcriptional profiling revealed a lineage relationship between epicardial cells and smooth muscle, stromal, and endothelial fates, and that physiological hypoxia promoted an endothelial cell fate. In vitro analyses of purified epicardial cells showed that cell growth and subsequent differentiation is dependent upon hypoxia, and that resident epicardial cells retain progenitor identity in the adult mammalian heart with self-renewal and multilineage differentiation potential. These results point to a source of progenitor cells in the adult heart that can promote heart revascularization, providing an invaluable in vitro model for further studies.

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flow cytometry

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