The most promising strategies in bone engineering have concentrated on providing sufficient vascularization to support the newly forming tissue. In this context, recent research in the field has focused on studying the complex interactions between bone forming and endothelial cells. Our previous work has demonstrated that direct contact cocultivation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) with primary human osteoblasts (hOBs) induces the osteogenic phenotype and survival of hOBs. In order to investigate the mechanisms that lead to this effect, we performed microarray gene expression profiling on HUVECs following cocultivation with hOBs. Our data reveal profound transcriptomic changes that are dependent on direct cell contact between these cell populations. Pathway analysis using the MetaCore™ platform and literature research suggested a striking upregulation of transcripts related to extracellular matrix and cell-matrix interactions. Upregulation of a number of major angiogenetic factors confirms previous observations that HUVECs enter a proangiogenic state upon cocultivation with osteoblasts. Interestingly, the downregulated transcripts clustered predominantly around cell cycle-related processes. The microarray data were confirmed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR on selected genes. Taken together, this study provides a platform for further inquiries in complex interactions between endothelial cells and osteoblasts. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 1584–1594, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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