A new HBLB grant has been awarded to researchers at the Royal Veterinary College to work on "Blood outgrowth endothelial cells: a novel non-invasive method for studying equine endothelial cell biology in health and disease"
The endothelial cell lining of blood vessels plays important roles in maintaining vascular integrity and effective tissue repair through regulating blood flow, clotting, inflammation and angiogenesis. Impaired endothelial cell function is implicated in numerous equine diseases including laminitis, endotoxaemia, pulmonary inflammation, equine herpes virus pathogenesis and gastrointestinal disease.
To date, studying equine endothelial cell function in health and disease has relied on using tissues obtained from euthanased animals, severely limiting the research questions answerable. This new project aims to develop a novel non-invasive method of isolating equine endothelial cells directly from the blood, an approach which is showing promise in human research and has already been developed at the RVC for asking questions relating to human cardiovascular health and disease. Use of these blood outgrowth endothelial cells (BOEC) will allow us to explore the mechanistic basis of equine endothelial dysfunction, providing valuable insights into equine endothelial cell biology. Importantly, by analysing BOEC ex vivo the technique will also facilitate, for the first time, non-invasive assessment of the effects of disease and direct interventions on the equine vasculature. These cells may therefore have diagnostic applications as well as therapeutic potential in regenerative medicine.
The project has developed from a new collaboration between RVC academics in the Comparative Physiology and Medicine research group working on human vascular cells and endothelial progenitors (Caroline Wheeler-Jones) and on equine endothelial cells (Nicola Menzies-Gow and Jonathan Elliott) and promises to fulfil the potential of the One Medicine approach in biomedical research.