Background: The generation of hematopoietic cells from endothelial cells may determine a novel approach for the production of blood cells. Regenerative functions of Silymarin, a mixture of polyphenolic flavonoids derived from milk thistle, have previously been reported. The purpose of this study was to investigate the direct effect of Silymarin on conversion of endothelial cells to hematopoietic cells.
Methods: The effect of Silymarin on CD34, CD45, and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) markers along with all the main hematopoietic lineage markers in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were investigated by flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry.
Results: Treatment of HUVEC cells with Silymarin after 24 hours significantly increased the number of the cells expressing CD34 and CD45 markers. Although the percentage of VEGFR-2 and CD13 was increased, the changes were not statistically significant during 24 hours. No significant expression of the rest of the hematopoietic lineage specific markers was found during this time.
Conclusions: Taken together, our preliminary findings demonstrated the potential of Silymarin to switch human umbilical vein endothelial cells into hematopoietic progenitor cells.