ARA290, a Specific Agonist of Erythropoietin/CD131 Heteroreceptor, Improves Circulating Endothelial Progenitors’ Angiogenic Potential and Homing Ability

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Alternate erythropoietin (EPO)-mediated signaling via the EPOR/CD131 heteromeric receptor exerts the tissue-protective actions of EPO in a wide spectrum of injuries, especially ischemic diseases. Circulating endothelial progenitor cells contribute to endothelial repair and post-natal angiogenesis after chronic ischemic injury. This work aims to investigate the effects of ARA290, a specific agonist of EPOR/CD131 complex, on a subpopulation of endothelial progenitor cells named endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) and to characterize its contribution to ECFCs-induced angiogenesis after peripheral ischemia.


ARA290 effects on ECFCs properties were studied using cell cultures in vitro. We injected ARA290 to mice undergoing chronic hindlimb ischemia (CLI) in combination with ECFC transplantation. The homing of transplanted ECFC to ischemic tissue in vivo was assessed by SPECT/CT imaging.


In vitro, ARA290 enhanced the proliferation, migration, and resistance to H2O2-induced apoptosis of ECFCs. After ECFC transplantation to mice with CLI, a single ARA290 injection enhanced the ischemic/non-ischemic ratio of hindlimb blood flow and capillary density after 28 days and the homing of radiolabeled transplanted cells to the ischemic leg 4 h after transplantation. Prior neutralization of platelet-endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (CD31) expressed by the transplanted cells inhibited ARA290-induced improvement of homing.


ARA290 induces specific improvement of the biological activity of ECFCs. ARA290 administration in combination with ECFCs has a synergistic effect on post-ischemic angiogenesis in vivo. This potentiation appears to rely, at least in part, on a CD31-dependent increase in homing of the transplanted cells to the ischemic tissue.

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