Oral mucosa harbors a high frequency of endothelial cells: A novel postnatal cell source for angiogenic regeneration

Jian Zhou, Jason H. Rogers, Scott H. Lee, Dongming Sun, Hai Yao, Jeremy J. Mao, Kimi Y. Kong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Endothelial progenitor cells/endothelial cells (EPCs/ECs) have great potential to treat pathological conditions such as cardiac infarction, muscle ischemia, and bone fractures, but isolation of EPC/ECs from existing cell sources is challenging due to their low EC frequency. We have isolated endothelial progenitor (EP)-like cells from rat oral mucosa and characterized their yield, immunophenotype, growth, and in vivo angiogenic potential. The frequency of EP-like cells derived from oral mucosa is thousands of folds higher than EPCs derived from donor-match bone marrow samples. EP-like cells from oral mucosa were positive for EC markers CD31, VE-Cadherin, and VEGFR2. Oral mucosa-derived EP-like cells displayed robust uptake of acetylated low-density lipoprotein and formed stable capillary networks in Matrigel. Subcutaneously implanted oral mucosa-derived EP-like cells anastomosed with host blood vessels, implicating their ability to elicit angiogenesis. Similar to endothelial colony-forming cells, EP-like cells from oral mucosa have a significantly higher proliferative rate than human umbilical vein endothelial cells. These findings identify a putative EPC source that is easily accessible in the oral cavity, potentially from discarded tissue specimens, and yet with robust yield and potency for angiogenesis in tissue and organ regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalStem Cells and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • angiogenesis
  • endothelial progenitor cells
  • oral mucosa
  • postnatal endothelial cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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