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Haemogenic endothelium in infantile haemangioma
  1. Tinte Itinteang1,2,3,
  2. Swee T Tan1,2,3,4,
  3. Helen Brasch2,5,
  4. Darren J Day1,2,3
  1. 1School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
  2. 2Centre for the Study & Treatment of Vascular Birthmarks, Wellington Regional Plastic, Maxillofacial & Burns Unit, Hutt Hospital, Wellington, New Zealand
  3. 3Gillies McIndoe Research Institute, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand
  4. 4University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  5. 5Department of Pathology, Hutt Hospital, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Professor Swee T Tan, Wellington Regional Plastic, Maxillofacial & Burns Unit, Hutt Hospital, Private Bag 31-907, High Street, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand; swee.tan{at}


Background Proliferating infantile haemangioma (IH) is a tumour of the microvasculature composed predominantly of immature endothelial cells. The origin of IH is unclear, but it has been shown to express markers of both endothelial and haematopoietic lineages, and a role for endothelial progenitor cells in the aetiology of IH has been suggested. Haemangioblasts are precursors of both endothelial and haematopoietic cells, and their characterisation has identified the expression of cell surface and intracellular proteins that collectively can be used for assigning a haemangioblast phenotype.

Methods The authors used immunohistochemical staining to characterise the expression of primitive haematopoietic-associated proteins in proliferating IHs.

Results and discussion The authors show that the cells forming the capillary endothelium express markers associated with primitive haematopoietic cells. Additionally, many of these cells express the transcription factors brachyury and GATA-2, indicating a primitive mesodermal origin. They hypothesise that the immature capillaries in IH are derived from primitive mesodermal cells with haemangioblastic differentiation capabilities. The expression of primitive mesodermal, endothelial and haematopoietic markers by the cells forming the endothelium suggests that the immature capillaries that predominate in proliferating IH are a haemogenic endothelium phenotype, derived from haemangioblasts.

  • Infantile haemangioma
  • primitive mesoderm
  • brachyury
  • haemogenic endothelium
  • haemangioblast
  • haematopoietic
  • blood vessels
  • haematology
  • haematopathology
  • tumour biology

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  • Equal senior authors: STT, DJD This paper was presented, in part, at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons' Annual Scientific Congress, Brisbane, Australia, 11–16 May 2009; the Australian and New Zealand Vascular Anomalies Interest Group Meeting, Melbourne, Australia, 22 October 2009; the New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons' Annual Scientific Meeting, Auckland, New Zealand, 21 November 2009; the 18th International Society for the Study of Vascular Anomalies Workshop, Brussels, Belgium, 21–24 April, 2010; and the 8th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Stem Cell Research, San Francesco, USA, 16–19 June 2010.

  • Funding We wish to thank the Wellington Regional Plastic Surgery Unit Research & Education Trust, the Wellington Medical Research Foundation, the Surgical Research Trust and Pub Charity for their financial support of this project. TI is supported by a Royal Australasian College of Surgeons' Foundation for Surgery Scholarship.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Wellington Regional Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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