Vasculogenesis is a complex process by which endothelial stem and progenitor cells undergo de novo vessel formation. Quantitative assessment of vasculogenesis is a central readout of endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) functionality. However, current assays lack kinetic measurements. To address this issue, new approaches were developed to quantitatively assess in vitro endothelial colony forming cell (ECFC) network formation in real time. Eight parameters of network structure were quantified using novel Kinetic Analysis of Vasculogenesis (KAV) software. KAV assessment of structure complexity identified two phases of network formation. This observation guided the development of additional vasculogenic readouts. A tissue cytometry approach was established to quantify the frequency and localization of dividing ECFCs. Additionally, FIJI TrackMate was used to quantify ECFC displacement and speed at the single cell level during network formation. These novel approaches were then implemented to identify how intrauterine exposure to maternal diabetes mellitus (DM) impairs fetal ECFC vasculogenesis. Fetal ECFCs exposed to maternal DM form fewer initial network structures, which are not stable over time. Correlation analyses demonstrated that ECFC samples with greater division in branches form fewer closed network structures. Additionally, reductions in average ECFC movement over time decreases structural connectivity. Identification of these novel phenotypes utilizing the newly established methodologies provides evidence for the cellular mechanisms contributing to aberrant ECFC vasculogenesis.
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology