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Posted: 14th June 2024

Study sheds light on equine endothelial cells
“Our methods can now be used by all researchers interested in the topic to further their work” – Elizabeth Finding.
Researchers tested reactions to different growth factors.

A new study has revealed that endothelial cells in horses respond differently to factors that encourage blood vessel growth compared to humans.

Endothelial cells, which line blood vessels, are responsible for the formation of new blood vessels in a process called angiogenesis.

Despite the importance of endothelial cells in many equine diseases and recovery from injury, not much is known about angiogenesis in horses. 

The research team, based at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), isolated equine endothelial cells and tested how different growth factors stimulated the cells to start the angiogenesis process.

In human
endothelial cells, vascular endothelial growth factor A is the most studied protein. It is sometimes used in cancer treatment in humans. When tested on the equine cells, the study found that it had far less of an effect on the equine cells compared to human cells.

Instead, the tests showed that a different growth factor, fibroblast growth factor 2, caused a much stronger growth response in equine endothelial cells.

As part of the study, the research team also optimised methods for assessing the angiogenic behaviours of equine aortic endothelial cells. The researchers hope their findings will aid further research into both equine and human diseases.

Elizabeth Finding, lecturer in basic sciences at RVC and lead author of the paper, said: “Endothelial cells are crucial to all body systems and the fact that we have known so little about them in the horse up to this stage has limited our ability to study many aspects of equine health and disease.

“Our methods can now be used by all researchers interested in the topic to further their work. I am excited by the possibility that the differences we have found between equine and human endothelial cells may be useful for studying human diseases.”

The study has been published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Image © Shutterstock

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