Charcoal-stripped serum (CSS) is a well-accepted method to model effects of sex hormones in cell cultures. We have recently shown that human endothelial cells (ECs) fail to growth and to undergo in vitro angiogenesis when cultured in CSS. However, the mechanism(s) underlying the CSS-induced impairment of in vitro EC properties are still unknown. In addition, whether there is any sexual dimorphism in the CSS-induced EC phenotype remains to be determined. Here, by independently studying human male and female ECs, we found that CSS inhibited both male and female EC growth and in vitro angiogenesis, with a more pronounced effect on male EC sprouting. Reconstitution of CSS with 17-β estradiol, dihydrotestosterone, or the lipophilic thyroid hormone did not restore EC functions in both sexes. On the contrary, supplementation with palmitic acid or the acetyl-CoA precursor acetate significantly rescued the CSS-induced inhibition of growth and sprouting in both male and female ECs. We can conclude that the loss of metabolic precursors (e.g., fatty acids) rather than of hormones is involved in the impairment of in vitro proliferative and angiogenic properties of male and female ECs cultured with CSS.
Vanetti, C., Bifari, F., Vicentini, L. M., & Cattaneo, M. G. (2017). Fatty acids rather than hormones restore in vitro angiogenesis in human male and female endothelial cells cultured in charcoal-stripped serum. PLoS ONE, 12(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189528