Vascular endothelial cells (ECs) that constitute the inner surface of blood vessels are essential for new vessel formation and organ homeostasis. ECs display remarkable phenotypic heterogeneity across different organs and the vascular tree during angiogenesis and homeostasis. Recent advances in single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) technologies have allowed a new understanding of EC heterogeneity in both mice and humans. In particular, scRNA-seq has identified new molecular signatures for arterial, venous and capillary ECs in different organs, as well as previously unrecognized specialized EC subtypes, such as the aerocytes localized in the alveolar capillaries of the lung. scRNA-seq has also revealed the gene expression profiles of specialized tissue-resident EC subtypes that are capable of clonal expansion and contribute to adult angiogenesis, a process of new vessel formation from the pre-existing vasculature. These specialized tissue-resident ECs have been identified in various different mouse tissues, including aortic endothelium, liver, heart, lung, skin, skeletal muscle, retina, choroid, and brain. Transcription factors and signaling pathways have also been identified in the specialized tissue-resident ECs that control angiogenesis. Furthermore, scRNA-seq has also documented responses of ECs in diseases such as cancer, age-related macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis, and myocardial infarction. These new findings revealed by scRNA-seq have the potential to provide new therapeutic targets for different diseases associated with blood vessels. In this article, we summarize recent advances in the understanding of the vascular endothelial cell heterogeneity and endothelial stem cells associated with angiogenesis and homeostasis in mice and humans, and we discuss future prospects for the application of scRNA-seq technology.
Wakabayashi, Taku and Naito, Hisamichi, "Cellular Heterogeneity and Stem Cells of Vascular Endothelial Cells in Blood Vessel Formation and Homeostasis: Insights from single-cell RNA Sequencing" (2023). Wills Eye Hospital Papers. Paper 188.
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