Approaches for the isolation of human placental microvascular endothelial cells (HPMEC) using proteolytic enzymes have been described recently. However, the isolation procedure and enzyme composition most suitable for optimal disaggregation of placental tissue and isolation of HPMEC has not yet been established. We tested different proteolytic enzymes and enzyme mixtures for their capabilities of releasing endothelial cells from human term placental villous tissue. Best results were obtained with a mixture of collagenase/dispase/deoxyribonuclease I (0.28%/0.25%/0.01%). By adding a discontinuous Percoll gradient centrifugation step to the enzymatic dispersion, about 1 × 106 cells/g tissue with more than 30% von Willebrand factor (vWf)-positive cells were obtained. However, the total cell number and number of vWf-positive cells were highly dependent on the lot of collagenase used. A perfusion step prior to mincing of villous tissue did not increase the amount of vWf-positive cells. We conclude that the methods described in this study are suitable to isolate high yields of HPMEC and that the composition of the collagenase preparation is crucial to the successful release of endothelial cells from placental tissue. To obtain pure HPMEC, further separation steps, e.g., cell sorting with antibodies against endothelial specific cell surface antigens are necessary.
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Vol. 37 • No. 7