Vascular repair by endothelial progenitor cells

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Abstract

Accumulating evidence indicates the impact of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) in vascular repair. In patients, the number of EPCs is negatively correlated with the severity of atherosclerosis. In various animal models, transplantation of bone marrow-derived progenitor cells could sufficiently rescue organ function and enhance vascular repair and tissue regeneration. Increase in the number of circulating progenitors, induced by cell transfusion or enhanced mobilization, can also enhance restoration and integrity of the endothelial lining, suppress neointimal formation, and increase blood flow to ischaemic sites. However, the beneficial outcome of EPC infusion very much depends on the growth and differentiation factors within the tissue, cell-to-cell interactions, and the degree of injury. As highlighted by several studies, EPCs derive from different sources including bone marrow and non-bone marrow organs such as the spleen, the functional repair properties of which may vary with the maturation state of the cell. Thus, understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in EPC-repairing processes is essential. In the present review we focus on the role of EPCs in vascular diseases, and we provide an update on the mechanisms of EPC mobilization, homing, and differentiation.

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