During early human embryonic development, blood vessels are stimulated to grow, branch, and invade developing tissues and organs. Pluripotent human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are endowed with the capacity to differentiate into cells of blood and lymphatic vessels. The present study aimed to follow vasculogenesis during the early stages of developing human vasculature and to examine whether human neovasculogenesis within teratomas generated in SCID mice from hESCs follows a similar course and can be used as a model for the development of human vasculature. Markers and gene profiling of smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells of blood and lymphatic vessels were used to follow neovasculogenesis and lymphangiogenesis in early developing human embryos (4–8 weeks) and in teratomas generated from hESCs. The involvement of vascular smooth muscle cells in the early stages of developing human embryonic blood vessels is demonstrated, as well as the remodeling kinetics of the developing human embryonic blood and lymphatic vasculature. In teratomas, human vascular cells were demonstrated to be associated with developing blood vessels. Processes of intensive remodeling of blood vessels during the early stages of human development are indicated by the upregulation of angiogenic factors and specific structural proteins. At the same time, evidence for lymphatic sprouting and moderate activation of lymphangiogenesis is demonstrated during these developmental stages. In the teratomas induced by hESCs, human angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis are relatively insignificant. The main source of blood vessels developing within the teratomas is provided by the murine host. We conclude that the teratoma model has only limited value as a model to study human neovasculogenesis and that other in vitro methods for spontaneous and guided differentiation of hESCs may prove more useful.
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