Imperial College London

Dr. Isra Marei

Faculty of MedicineNational Heart & Lung Institute

Honorary Research Fellow



isra.marei11 Website




Sir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

2 results found

Ahmetaj-Shala B, Marei I, Kawai R, Rothery S, Pericleous C, Mohamed N, Gashaw H, Bokea K, Samuel J, Vandenheste A, Shala F, Kirkby N, Mitchell Jet al., 2021, Activation and contraction of human ‘vascular’ smooth muscle cells grown from circulating blood progenitors, Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, Vol: 9, Pages: 1-6, ISSN: 2296-634X

Blood outgrowth smooth muscle cells offer the means to study vascular cells without the requirement for surgery providing opportunities for drug discovery, tissue engineering and personalised medicine. However, little is known about these cells which has meant their therapeutic potential remains unexplored. Our objective was to investigate for the first time the ability of blood outgrowth smooth muscle cells and vessel derived smooth muscle cells to sense the thromboxane mimetic U46619 bymeasuring intracellular calcium elevation and contraction. U46619 (10 26 -6M) increased cytosolic calcium in blood outgrowth smooth muscle cells fibroblasts. Increased calcium signal peaked between 10-20 seconds after U46619 in both smoothmuscle cell types. Importantly, U46619 (10-9 to 10-6M) induced concentration-dependent contractions of both blood outgrowth smooth muscle cells and vascular smooth muscle cells but not in fibroblasts. In summary, we show that functional responses of blood outgrowth smooth muscle cells are in line with vascular smooth muscle cells providing critical evidence of their application in biomedical research.

Journal article

Ahmetaj-Shala B, Kawai R, Marei I, Nikolakopoulou Z, Shih C-C, Konain B, Reed DM, Mongey R, Kirkby NS, Mitchell JAet al., 2020, A bioassay system of autologous human endothelial, smooth muscle cells and leucocytes for use in drug discovery, phenotyping and tissue engineering, The FASEB Journal, Vol: 34, Pages: 1745-1754, ISSN: 0892-6638

Purpose: Blood vessels are comprised of endothelial and smooth muscle cells. Obtaining both types of cells from vessels of living donors is not possible without invasive surgery. To address this we have devised a strategy whereby human endothelial and smooth muscle cells derived from blood progenitors from the same donor could be cultured with autologous leucocytes to generate a same donor ‘vessel in a dish’ bioassay. Basic procedures: Autologous sets of blood outgrowth endothelial cells (BOECs), smooth muscle cells (BO-SMCs) and leucocytes were obtained from 4 donors. Cells were treated in mono and cumulative co-culture conditions. The endothelial specific mediator endothelin-1 along with interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, tumour necrosis factor α, and interferon gamma-induced protein 10 were measured under control culture conditions and after stimulation with cytokines.Main findings: Co-cultures remained viable throughout. The profile of individual mediators released from cells was consistent with what we know of endothelial and smooth muscle cells cultured from blood vessels.Principle conclusions: For the first time, we report a proof of concept study where autologous blood outgrowth ‘vascular’ cells and leucocytes were studied alone and in co-culture. This novel bioassay has utility in vascular biology research, patient phenotyping, drug testing and tissue engineering.

Journal article

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