Chemically defined human vascular laminins for biologically relevant culture of hiPSC-derived brain microvascular endothelial cells

Pedram Motallebnejad, Samira M. Azarin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: In recent years, differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into brain-specific microvascular endothelial cells (iBMECs) has frequently been used to model the blood-brain barrier (BBB). However, there are limitations in the use of iBMECs for in vitro studies, such as transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) instability, weak junctional expression of VE-cadherin, and lack of proper fluid shear stress response. In vivo, the basement membrane (BM) composition of the BBB evolves throughout development, and laminins become the dominant component of the mature vascular BM. However, laminin isoforms of the endothelial BM have not been used for culture of differentiated iBMECs. The main goal of this study is to investigate the effect of different laminin isoforms of the endothelial BM on iBMEC functionality and to determine whether better recapitulation of the physiological BM in vitro can address the aforementioned limitations of iBMECs. Methods: Using a previously reported method, hiPSCs were differentiated into iBMECs. The influence of main laminins of the endothelial BM, LN 411 and LN 511, on iBMEC functionality was studied and compared to a collagen IV and fibronectin mixture (CN IV-FN). Quantitative RT-PCR, immunocytochemistry, and TEER measurement were utilized to assess gene and protein expression and barrier properties of iBMECs on different extracellular matrices. Single-channel microfluidic devices were used to study the effect of shear stress on iBMECs. Results: LN 511, but not LN 411, improved iBMEC barrier properties and resulted in more sustained TEER stability. Immunocytochemistry showed improved junctional protein expression compared to iBMECs cultured on CN IV-FN. iBMECs cultured on LN 511 showed a reduction of stress fibers, indicating resting endothelial phenotype, whereas gene expression analysis revealed upregulation of multiple genes involved in endothelial activation in iBMECs on CN IV-FN. Finally, culturing iBMECs on LN 511 enhanced physiological responses to shear stress, including morphological changes and enhanced junctional protein association. Conclusion: LN 511 improves the functionality and long-term barrier stability of iBMECs. Our findings suggest that incorporation of physiologically relevant LN 511 in iBMEC culture would be beneficial for disease modeling applications and BBB-on-a-chip platforms that accommodate fluid flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number54
JournalFluids and Barriers of the CNS
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 10 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Basement membrane
  • Brain specific microvascular endothelial cells
  • Human induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Laminin 511
  • Shear stress


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