• HUVEC;
  • osteoblast;
  • MSC;
  • proliferation;
  • apoptosis


Angiogenesis is a fundamental process in bone formation, remodeling, and regeneration. Moreover, for the regeneration of bone in tissue engineering applications, it is essential to support neovascularization. This can be achieved by cell-based therapies using primary endothelial cells, which are able to form functional blood vessels upon implantation. In bone composite grafts, coimplanted endothelial cells do not only support neovascularization but also support osteogenic differentiation of osteoblasts and osteoprogenitor cells. In this study, we investigated the effect of endothelial cells on proliferation and cell survival of human primary osteoblasts (hOBs) and human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) stimulated hOB and MSC proliferation, whereas proliferation of HUVECs was unaffected by cocultured hOBs or MSCs. The effect of HUVEC cocultivation on hOB and MSC proliferation was more pronounced in direct cocultures than in indirect cocultures, indicating that this effect is at least partially dependent on the formation of heterotypic cell contacts between HUVECs and hOBs or MSCs. Furthermore, HUVEC cocultivation reduced low-serum induced apotosis of hOBs and MSCs by a mechanism involving increased phosphorylation and inactivation of the proapoptotic protein Bad. In summary, our experiments have shown that cocultured HUVECs increase the proliferation and reduce low-serum induced apoptosis of hOBs and MSCs. © 2012 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 30:1682–1689, 2012