Sex-dependent VEGF expression underlies variations in human pluripotent stem cell to endothelial progenitor differentiation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Lauren N. Randolph
  • Xiaoping Bao
  • Michael Oddo
  • Xiaojun Lance Lian

External Institution(s)

  • Pennsylvania State University


Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16696
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatusPublished - Dec 1 2019


Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) offer tremendous promise in tissue engineering and cell-based therapies because of their unique combination of two properties: pluripotency and a high proliferative capacity. To realize this potential, development of efficient hPSC differentiation protocols is required. In this work, sex-based differences are identified in a GSK3 inhibitor based endothelial progenitor differentiation protocol. While male hPSCs efficiently differentiate into CD34 +CD31+ endothelial progenitors upon GSK3 inhibition, female hPSCs showed limited differentiation capacity using this protocol. Using VE-cadherin-GFP knockin reporter cells, female cells showed significantly increased differentiation efficiency when treated with VEGF during the second stage of endothelial progenitor differentiation. Interestingly, male cells showed no significant change in differentiation efficiency with VEGF treatment, but did show augmented early activation of VE-cadherin expression. A sex-based difference in endogenous expression of VEGF was identified that is likely the underlying cause of discrepancies in sex-dependent differentiation efficiency. These findings highlight the importance of sex differences in progenitor biology and the development of new stem cell differentiation protocols.