Effects of granulocyte colony simulating factor on functional activities of endothelial progenitor cells in patients with chronic ischemic heart disease

Joerg Honold, Ralf Lehmann, Christopher Heeschen, Dirk H Walter, Birgit Assmus, Ken-ichiro Sasaki, Hans Martin, Judith Haendeler, Andreas M Zeiher, Stefanie Dimmeler
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 2006, 26 (10): 2238-43

OBJECTIVE: Bone marrow-derived circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) may contribute to regeneration of infarcted myocardium and enhance neovascularization. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is well-established to mobilize hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and might, thereby, also increase the pool of endogenously circulating EPC. Therefore, we investigated the effects of G-CSF administration on mobilization and functional activities of blood-derived EPC in patients with chronic ischemic heart disease (CIHD).

METHODS AND RESULTS: Sixteen patients with CIHD received 10 microg/kg per day subcutaneous G-CSF injection for 5 days. Leukocyte counts, the number of HSCs and EPCs, and the migratory response to VEGF and SDF-1 were analyzed before and after G-CSF-therapy. At day 5 of G-CSF treatment, the number of circulating leukocytes, CD34+ CD45+ and CD34+ CD133+ cells was significantly increased. Likewise, G-CSF treatment augmented the numbers of colony forming units with endothelial cell morphology (EC-CFU). However, the functional activity of the EPC as assessed by the migratory response to VEGF and SDF-1 was significantly reduced after G-CSF treatment (P<0.01). Because G-CSF was previously shown to cleave the CXCR4 receptor, we determined the surface expression of the 6H8 epitope of the CXCR4 receptor by fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis. Consistent with the reduced migratory capacity, the surface expression of the functionally active CXCR4 receptor was significantly reduced. To test the functional activity of the cultivated EPCs in vivo, cells were intravenously infused in nude mice after hind limb ischemia. EPCs, which were cultivated before G-CSF administration, increased blood flow recovery and prevented limb necrosis. However, infusion of EPCs, which were isolated 5 days after G-CSF treatment from the same patient, showed a reduced capacity to augment blood flow recovery and to prevent necrosis by 27%.

CONCLUSIONS: G-CSF treatment effectively mobilizes HSCs and EPCs. However, the migratory response to SDF-1 and in vivo capacity of G-CSF-mobilized EPCs was significantly reduced.

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