GFAP (Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein)-Positive Progenitor Cells Contribute to the Development of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells and Endothelial Cells-Brief Report

Islam Osman, Liang Wang, Guoqing Hu, Zeqi Zheng, Jiliang Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: While GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein) is commonly used as a classical marker for astrocytes in the central nervous system, GFAP-expressing progenitor cells give rise to other cell types during development. The goal of this study was to investigate whether GFAP-expressing progenitor cells contribute to the development of vascular cells in major arteries. Approach and Results: To label GFAP-expressing progenitor cells and their progeny, we crossed GFAP promoter-driven Cre recombinase mice (GFAP-Cre) with transgenic mice expressing the Cre-dependent mTmG dual fluorescent reporter gene. Using this genetic fate-mapping approach, here we demonstrate that GFAP-positive progenitor cells contribute to the development of vascular smooth muscle cells in both neural crest- A nd non-neural crest-derived vascular beds. In addition, GFAP-positive progenitor cells contribute to a subset of endothelial cells in some vasculature. Furthermore, fate-mapping analyses at multiple time points of mouse development demonstrate a time-dependent increase in the contribution of GFAP-positive progenitors to vascular smooth muscle cells, which mostly occurs in the postnatal period. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells within the same vascular segment are developmentally heterogeneous, where varying proportions of vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells are contributed by GFAP-positive progenitor cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1231-1238
Number of pages8
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • astrocytes
  • endothelial cells
  • genes, reporter
  • muscle, smooth
  • neural crest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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