Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 75, Issue 22, pp 4079–4091 | Cite as

Response of vascular mesenchymal stem/progenitor cells to hyperlipidemia

  • Ting Chen
  • Yutao Wu
  • Wenduo Gu
  • Qingbo XuEmail author


Hyperlipidemia is a risk factor for atherosclerosis that is characterized by lipid accumulation, inflammatory cell infiltration, and smooth muscle cell proliferation. It is well known that hyperlipidemia is a stimulator for endothelial dysfunction and smooth muscle cell migration during vascular disease development. Recently, it was found that vessel wall contains a variable number of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that are quiescent in physiological conditions, but can be activated by a variety of stimuli, e.g., increased lipid level or hyperlipidemia. Vascular MSCs displayed characteristics of stem cells which can differentiate into several types of cells, e.g., smooth muscle cells, adipocytic, chondrocytic, and osteocytic lineages. In vitro, lipid loading can induce MSC migration and chemokines secretion. After MSC migration into the intima, they play an essential role in inflammatory response and cell accumulation during the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. In addition, MSC transplantation has been explored as a therapeutic approach to treat atherosclerosis in animal models. In this review, we aim to summarize current progress in characterizing the identity of vascular MSCs and to discuss the mechanisms involved in the response of vascular stem/progenitor cells to lipid loading, as well as to explore therapeutic strategies for vascular diseases and shed new light on regenerative medicine.


Stem cells Progenitor cells Hyperlipidemia Atherosclerosis 



This work was supported by British Heart Foundation (RG/14/6/31144) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (91639302, 91339102, and 91539103).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CardiologyThe First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang UniversityZhejiangChina
  2. 2.School of Cardiovascular Medicine and SciencesKing’s BHF CentreLondonUK

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