• Endothelial progenitor cells;
  • Endothelial cell forming cells;
  • Mesenchymal stem cells;
  • Osteogenesis;
  • Vasculogenesis


Umbilical cord blood-derived endothelial colony-forming cells (UCB-ECFC) show utility in neovascularization, but their contribution to osteogenesis has not been defined. Cocultures of UCB-ECFC with human fetal-mesenchymal stem cells (hfMSC) resulted in earlier induction of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) (Day 7 vs. 10) and increased mineralization (1.9×; p < .001) compared to hfMSC monocultures. This effect was mediated through soluble factors in ECFC-conditioned media, leading to 1.8–2.2× higher ALP levels and a 1.4–1.5× increase in calcium deposition (p < .01) in a dose-dependent manner. Transcriptomic and protein array studies demonstrated high basal levels of osteogenic (BMPs and TGF-βs) and angiogenic (VEGF and angiopoietins) regulators. Comparison of defined UCB and adult peripheral blood ECFC showed higher osteogenic and angiogenic gene expression in UCB-ECFC. Subcutaneous implantation of UCB-ECFC with hfMSC in immunodeficient mice resulted in the formation of chimeric human vessels, with a 2.2-fold increase in host neovascularization compared to hfMSC-only implants (p = .001). We conclude that this study shows that UCB-ECFC have potential in therapeutic angiogenesis and osteogenic applications in conjunction with MSC. We speculate that UCB-ECFC play an important role in skeletal and vascular development during perinatal development but less so in later life when expression of key osteogenesis and angiogenesis genes in ECFC is lower. Stem Cells2012;30:1911–1924