Role of progenitor endothelial cells in cardiovascular disease and upcoming therapies.
The field of cell-based transplantation has expanded considerably and is poised to become an established cardiovascular therapy in the near future. In this review, we will focus on endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which are immature cells capable of differentiating into mature endothelial cells. EPCs share many surface marker antigens such as CD34, AC133, Flk-1, etc. with hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and the major source of EPCs as well as HSCs is the bone marrow (BM). BM-derived EPCs are mobilized into peripheral blood and recruited to the foci of pathophysiological neovascularization and reendothelialization, thereby contributing to vascular regeneration. Severe EPC dysfunction is an indicator of poor prognosis and severe endothelial dysfunction. Indeed, number of circulating EPCs and their migratory activity are reduced in patients with diabetes, coronary artery disease (CAD), or subjects with multiple coronary risk factors. Effective neovascularization induced by EPC transplantation for hindlimb, myocardial, and cerebral ischemia has been demonstrated in many preclinical studies, and early clinical trials of EPC transplantation in chronic and acute CAD indicate safety and feasibility of myocardial cell-based therapies. For therapeutic reendothelialization in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention, CD34 antibody-coated stents have been used clinically to capture circulating EPCs at the injury sites and enhance reendothelialization and safety of stents. Further development in cell processing technology for efficient isolation, expansion, mobilization, recruitment, and transplantation of EPCs into target tissues are underway and expected to be tested in clinical trials in the near future. (c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.