Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent cells that can differentiate into several cell lineages, including mural cells, which surround and support blood vessels, and possibly endothelial cells, which form the blood vessel walls. In this study, we investigated the effects of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), two of the best-characterized angiogenic factors, on MSC proliferation and differentiation. We hypothesized that treatment with these two factors could inhibit mural cell character and promote differentiation toward an endothelial cell fate. C3H/10T1/2 cells (a line of MSCs derived from mouse embryonic tissues) were treated with bFGF and VEGF, either alone or in combination, over a 9-day course. The effects on cell proliferation and cell type-specific marker expression were determined by cell cycle analysis, quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) analysis, and flow cytometry. bFGF significantly stimulated MSC proliferation and inhibited expression of mural cell markers, with no apparent effect on endothelial marker expression. VEGF alone or in combination with bFGF had no significant effects on expression of mural cell or endothelial cell differentiation markers. We conclude that these angiogenic factors, although critical in maintaining the properties of endothelial cells, are not sufficient to promote C3H/10T1/2 cell differentiation to endothelial cells.