[Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs)—new tools for diagnosis and therapy]

Jeremy Ben-Shoshan, Gad Keren, Jacob George
Harefuah 2006, 145 (5): 362-6, 397
Accumulating evidence suggests that postnatal bone marrow is a source of cells that can participate in postnatal neovascularization and vascular homeostasis. Among these cells, a scarce population of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have the capacity to migrate to the peripheral circulation, proliferate and differentiate into mature endothelial cells in response to stimulating signals emanating from vascular injuries or during tumor growth. Questions persist, however, regarding the precise panel of cell surface markers that defined EPCs, as well as the different mechanisms stimulating or inhibiting their mobilization and differentiation. In the last decade, EPCs number and function have been correlated with risk factors for cardiovascular and peripheral vascular diseases. The authors review experimental results obtained from both animal studies and recent clinical trials, which point to the importance of EPCs potential as diagnostic markers and therapeutic tools in ischemic diseases. Furthermore, the article discusses the risk of potentially harmful side effects of altered EPCs number and functional properties, a critical barrier to overcome while bringing progenitor cell therapy to the clinical arena.

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