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Open Access Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Endothelial Cells as Cellular Delivery Vehicles for Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have shown tropism towards primary tumors or metastases and are thus potential vehicles for targeting tumor therapy. However, the source of adult EPCs is limited, which highlights the need for a consistent and renewable source of endothelial cells for clinical applications. Here, we investigated the potential of human embryonic stem cell-derived endothelial cells (hESC-ECs) as cellular delivery vehicles for therapy of metastatic breast cancer. In order to provide an initial assessment of the therapeutic potency of hESC-ECs, we treated human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells with hESC-EC conditioned medium (EC-CM) in vitro. The results showed that hESC-ECs could suppress the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway and thereby inhibit the proliferation and migration of MDA-MB-231 cells. To track and evaluate the possibility of hESC-EC-employed therapy, we employed the bioluminescence imaging (BLI) technology. To study the therapeutic potential of hESC-ECs, we established lung metastasis models by intravenous injection of MDA-MB-231 cells labeled with firefly luciferase (Fluc) and green fluorescent protein (GFP) to NOD/SCID mice. In mice with lung metastases, we injected hESC-ECs armed with herpes simplex virus truncated thymidine kinase (HSV-ttk) intravenously on days 11, 16, 21, and 26 after MDA-MB-231 cell injection. The NOD/SCID mice were subsequently treated with ganciclovir (GCV), and the growth status of tumor was monitored by Fluc imaging. We found that MDA-MB-231 tumors were significantly inhibited by intravenously injected hESC-ECs. The tumor-suppressive effects of the hESC-ECs, by inhibiting Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway and inducing tumor cell death through bystander effect in human metastatic breast cancer model, provide previously unexplored therapeutic modalities for cancer treatment.

Keywords: Cancer therapy; Cellular vehicle; Endothelial cells (ECs); Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs); Molecular imaging

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 5, 2013

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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