Specific Role of Impaired Glucose Metabolism and Diabetes Mellitus in Endothelial Progenitor Cell Characteristics and Function

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The disease burden of diabetes mellitus (DM) and its associated cardiovascular complications represent a growing and major global health problem. Recent studies suggest that circulating exogenous endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play an important role in endothelial repair and neovascularization at sites of injury or ischemia. Both experimental and clinical studies have demonstrated that hyperglycemia related to DM can induce alterations to EPCs. The reduction and dysfunction of EPCs related to DM correlate with the occurrence and severity of microvascular and macrovascular complications, suggesting a close mechanistic link between EPC dysfunction and impaired vascular function/repair in DM. These alterations to EPCs, likely mediated by multiple pathophysiological mechanisms, including inflammation, oxidative stress, and alterations in Akt and the nitric oxide pathway, affect EPCs at multiple stages: differentiation and mobilization in the bone marrow, trafficking and survival in the circulation, and homing and neovascularization. Several different therapeutic approaches have consequently been proposed to reverse the reduction and dysfunction of EPCs in DM and may represent a novel therapeutic approach to prevent and treat DM-related cardiovascular complications.

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