Recent experiments show that hematopoietic progenitor cell populations contain endothelial precursor cells. We have isolated a population of CD34+ cells that expresses fibroblast growth factor receptor-1 (FGFR-1) and that differentiates into endothelial cells in vitro. We find that 4.5% ± 2.1% of CD34+ cells isolated from bone marrow, cord blood, and mobilized peripheral blood express FGFR-1 and that viable CD34+FGFR+ cells are small, with little granularity, and express both primitive hematopoietic and endothelial markers on their surface. The primitive hematopoietic markers AC133, c-kit, and Thy-1 are coexpressed by 75%, 85%, and 64% of CD34+FGFR+ cells, respectively. Most of the CD34+FGFR+ cells also express antigens found on endothelial cells, such as CD31, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2, and the endothelial-specific cell surface marker, vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cadherin), whereas 56% to 60% of the cells express Tie, Tek, and the endothelial-specific marker, P1H12. The CD34+FGFR+ population is enriched in cells expressing endothelial-specific antigens compared with the CD34+ population. Isolated CD34+FGFR+ cells grow slowly in culture, are stimulated by fibroblast growth factor-2 and vascular endothelial growth factor, and give rise to cells that express von Willebrand factor and VE-cadherin and that incorporate acetylated low-density lipoprotein. These experiments show that FGFR-1 is expressed by a subpopulation of CD34+ cells that give rise to endothelial cells in vitro, indicating that this population contains endothelial stem/progenitor cells.
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