Valproic acid (VPA), a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor is a widely used anticonvulsant drug. VPA is also under clinical evaluation to be employed in anticancer therapy, as an antithrombotic agent or a molecule to be used in the stem cells expansion protocols. Since endothelial colony forming cells (ECFC) has been identified as the human postnatal vasculogenic cells involved in thrombotic disorders and serve as a promising source of immature cell for vascular repair, objectives of the present study were to determine how VPA contributes to ECFC commitment and their angiogenic properties. We examined the effect of VPA on ECFC obtained from cord blood by evaluating colony number, proliferation, migration and their sprouting ability in vitro, as well as their in vivo vasculogenic properties. VPA inhibited endothelial differentiation potential from of cord blood derived stem cells associated with decreased proliferation and sprouting activity of cultured ECFC. VPA treatment significantly decreased the vessel-forming ability of ECFC transplanted together with mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) in Matrigel implants in nude mice model. Surprisingly, a microscopic evaluation revealed that VPA induces marked morphological changes from a cobblestone-like EC morphology to enlarged spindle shaped morphology of ECFC. RT-qPCR and a CD31/CD90 flow cytometry analysis confirmed a phenotypic switch of VPA-treated ECFC to mesenchymal-like phenotype. In conclusion, the pan-HDAC inhibitor VPA described for expansion of hematopoietic stem cells and very small embryonic like stem cells cannot be successfully employed for differentiation of endothelial lineage committed ECFC into functional endothelial cells. Our data also suggest that VPA based therapeutics may induce endothelial dysfunction associated with fibrosis that might induce thrombosis recurrence or venous insufficiency.
Keywords : Valproic acid . Endothelial progenitor . Endothelial colony forming cells . ECFC . Stem cells . Mesenchymal
transition .HDAC inhibitors . Fibrosis