Human embryonic stem cells (ESCs), by virtue of their capability to self-renew and differentiate into a variety of cell types,
represent the first type of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) to be used in clinical transplantation during recent phase-I trials; however,
it is still unclear whether hESC-derived tissues can self-organize and form part of the vascularized, functional organ following
transplantation. Recently, endothelial cells (ECs) or angiogenic factors such as VEGFA have been demonstrated to support
development and regeneration of multiple organ systems, including the heart, pancreas, liver, lung and bone marrow.
Therefore, co-transplantation of ECs derived from the same parental PSCs that differentiate into cell types of interest; or overexpression
of the inductive angiogenic factors responsible for organ regeneration might be beneficial to support function of
hPSC-derived tissues. In this special issue, we discuss how protein kinases (Ng and colleagues); DNA methylation and histone
modification (Tsui and colleagues) regulate cellular pluripotency and cell-fate specification of PSCs. In addition, we discuss
how ECs and angiogenic factors could contribute to repair and regeneration of organs such as the heart (Yuan and colleagues),
the cardiovascular system (Tse and colleagues) and the pancreas (Lui). We also discuss the role of mesenchymal stem cells or
paracrine factors secreted by them in tissue repair (Li and colleagues). Lastly, we discuss how to generate self-organized and
vascularized tissues derived from PSCs in a 2- or 3-dimensional format by fusing tissue bioengineering approaches with stem
cell technology (Chen).
Biomaterials, organ regeneration, pluripotent stem cells, stem cell epigenetics.