Biology of Endothelial Cellsby Eric A. Jaffe (Editor)
The participation of endothelial cells in various physiologic and pathologic processes has been hypothesized since before the turn of the century. However, until recently, direct evidence for endothelial involvement in these processes has been extremely difficult to obtain due to the inability to study endothelial cell function in vitro. Though the possibility of using cultured endothelial cells to study endothelial cell function in vitro was recognized many years ago, the inability to culture unambiguously identifiable endothelial cells limited investigators in their studies of endothelial function. As a result, the field of endothelial cell biology lay relatively fallow for many years. The development in the early 1970's of routine and easily implemented methods for culturing human endothelial cells and the demonstration that cultured endothelial cells synthesized a physiologically relevant protein, Factor VIII/von Willebrand Factor, quickly changed this state of affairs. Over the following decade the scope of endothelial cell research rapidly widened, spreading in a number of directions. First, methods were developed to culture endothelial cells from a variety of species. Second, methods were developed to culture endothelial cells from different organs and types of blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries) within a single species. Third, and most important, investigators began using cultured endothelial cells as tools to study the potential involvement of endothelial cells in a wide assortment of biologically interesting processes. The net result has been a tremendous increase in our understanding of endothelial cell function.
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