Potential implications of vascular wall resident endothelial progenitor cells

Süleyman Ergün, Derya Tilki, Hans-Peter Hohn, Ursula Gehling, Nerbil Kilic
Thrombosis and Haemostasis 2007, 98 (5): 930-9
A rapidly increasing body of data suggests an essential role of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) in vascular regeneration, formation of new vessels in cardiovascular diseases and also in tumor vasculogenesis. Moreover, recent data obtained from clinical studies with anti-angiogenic drugs in tumor therapy or with pro-angiogenic stimuli in ischemic disorders implicate a predictive role of the number of EPCs circulating in the peripheral blood in monitoring of these diseases. However, there is still some controversial data regarding the relevance of the EPCs in vascular formation depending on models used and diseases studied. One of the essential prerequisites for a better understanding of the whole contribution of EPCs to vascular formation in adult, a process called postnatal vasculogenesis, is to identify their exact sources. We could recently discover the existence of EPCs in a distinct zone of the vascular wall of large and middle sized adult blood vessels and showed that these cells are capable to differentiate into mature endothelial cells, to form capillary sprouts in arterial ring assay and to build vasa vasorum-like structures within the vascular wall. They also can be mobilized very rapidly from the vascular wall by tumor cells. This review will discuss the functional implications of these vascular wall resident endothelial progenitor cells (VW-EPCs) in relation to those of EPCs circulating in peripheral blood or derived from the bone marrow in cardiovascular and neoplastic diseases.

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