Endothelial Cell Culture From Human Cerebral Cavernous Malformations

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Background and Purpose

The cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM) is a common and frequently unrecognized cause of stroke and epilepsy. It consists of blood-filled caverns lined by endothelial cells (EC) and devoid of mature vessel wall structure. Cultured EC obtained from CCM may express phenotypic and genotypic alterations contributing to CCM pathogenesis. We report the first successful isolation and growth in vitro of primary EC lines from human CCM lesions.


We developed a procedure for the isolation and growth of EC from human CCM, confirmed their EC origin by a panel of molecular markers, and determined by immunocytochemistry the basic expression patterns of 6 transmembrane receptor protein kinases comparing brain, skin, and CCM primary EC lines grown identically.


Several CCM EC lines were established from 2 patients after we treated the excised specimens with 0.3% trypsin/1% EDTA, selective cloning, and growth in MCDB107 containing 0.3 g/L heparin, 0.15 g/L endothelial cell growth supplement, and 15% FBS. The CCM EC showed contact inhibition and a rounded cobblestone appearance. The cells expressed CD31, CD105, von Willebrand factor, and binding sites for Ulex europaeus agglutinin, type 1 and acetylated LDL. They showed low levels of Flt-1, Flk-1, transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta RI, and TGF-beta RII expression but stained strongly with antibodies against Tie-1 and Tie-2.


Cultured CCM EC retained their endothelial phenotype. Brain, skin, and CCM EC lines did not significantly differ in their staining patterns with antibodies against Flt-1, Flk-1, TGF-beta RI, TGF-beta RII, Tie-1, and Tie-2. These cell lines will assist in defining molecular phenotype and genotype alterations in association with CCM. (Stroke. 1998;29:2426-2434.)

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