The production of a basal lamina by microvascular endothelial cells (MEC) cultured on various substrata was examined. MEC were isolated from human dermis and plated on plastic dishes coated with fibronectin, or cell-free extracellular matrices elaborated by fibroblasts, smooth muscle cells, corneal endothelial cells, or PF HR9 endodermal cells. Examination of cultures by electron microscopy at selected intervals after plating revealed that on most substrates the MEC produced an extracellular matrix at the basal surface that was discontinuous, multilayered, and polymorphous. Immunocytochemical studies demonstrated that the MEC synthesize and deposit both type IV collagen and laminin into the subendothelial matrix. When cultured on matrices produced by the PF HR9 endodermal cells MEC deposit a subendothelial matrix that was present as a uniform sheet which usually exhibited lamina rara- and lamina densa-like regions. The results indicate that under the appropriate conditions, human MEC elaborate a basal lamina-like matrix that is ultrastructurally similar to basal lamina formed in vivo, which suggests that this experimental system may be a useful model for studies of basal lamina formation and metabolism.
In cultured human dermal microvessel endothelial cells, the rate of efflux (about twofold greater than for fibroblasts under equivalent conditions) was coupled to an equivalent high rate of sterol net transport from the cells to the medium. This net transport was linked with esterification via lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase. Since the use of free sterol by plasma transferase is constant, such increased net transport indicates that endothelial cells are highly efficient, in competition with plasma lipoproteins, in supplying free sterol for esterification. These results indicate the marked ability of endothelial cells to regulate and maintain their sterol balance in the face of high sterol levels to which these cells are uniquely exposed in human plasma.
A procedure for the isolation and cultivation of endothelium from the marginal vessels of the rabbit ear is described. Endothelial cells, isolated by slow perfusion with a trypsin solution, are cultured in minimal essential medium supplemented with 10% fresh rabbit serum for up to 6 mo. In primary culture, marginal vessel endothelial cells grow in an expanding circular pattern with closely apposed cell membranes. Weibel-Palade bodies, subcellular organelles unique to endothelial cells in situ, are present in both primary and in serially cultivated cells (12 passages). In intact skin, Weibel-Palade (W-P) bodies are observed in the perinuclear cytoplasm in close proximity to the cell membrane facing the vascular lumen. 8-16 tubules of 200 A diameter are present in each body. In primary and subcultured cells, W-P bodies of identical size are seen in the vicinity of the Golgi apparatus and in close proximity to the outer cell membrane. At the optimum serum concentration (10%), a cell doubling time of 72-96 h is observed. When growth in normal rabbit serum and in platelet-poor serum is compared, a slower growth rate is observed in the absence of platelets, suggesting that factors released by platelets affect endothelial cell proliferation. However, addition of crude platelet factor does not substitute for complete serum. Fibroblast growth factor is not mitogenic for rabbit marginal vessel endothelium in vitro.