Bisphosphonates are a class of pharmacologic compounds that are commonly used to treat postmenopausal osteoporosis and malignant osteolytic processes. Studies have shown that bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play a significant role in postnatal neovascularization. Whether the nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate zoledronate inhibits ischemia-induced neovascularization by modulating EPC functions remains unclear.
Unilateral hindlimb ischemia was surgically induced in wild-type mice after 2 weeks of treatment with vehicle or zoledronate (low-dose: 30 μg/kg; high-dose: 100 μg/kg). Doppler perfusion imaging demonstrated that the ischemic limb/normal side blood perfusion ratio was significantly lower in wild-type mice treated with low-dose zoledronate and in mice treated with high-dose zoledronate than in controls 4 weeks after ischemic surgery (control vs. low-dose vs. high-dose: 87±7% vs. *61±18% vs. **49±17%, *p<0.01, **p<0.005 compared to control). Capillary densities were also significantly lower in mice treated with low-dose zoledronate and in mice treated with high-dose zoledronate than in control mice. Flow cytometry analysis showed impaired mobilization of EPC-like cells (Sca-1+/Flk-1+) after surgical induction of ischemia in mice treated with zoledronate but normal levels of mobilization in mice treated with vehicle. In addition, ischemic tissue from mice that received zoledronate treatment exhibited significantly lower levels of the active form of MMP-9, lower levels of VEGF, and lower levels of phosphorylated eNOS and phosphorylated Akt than ischemic tissue from mice that received vehicle. Results of the in vitro studies showed that incubation with zoledronate inhibited the viability, migration, and tube-forming capacities of EPC.
Zoledronate inhibited ischemia-induced neovascularization by impairing EPC mobilization and angiogenic functions. These findings suggest that administration of zoledronate should be withheld in patients with ischemic events such as acute limb ischemia.
Current evidence suggests that endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) contribute to ischemic tissue repair by both secretion of paracrine factors and incorporation into developing vessels. We tested the hypothesis that cell-free administration of paracrine factors secreted by cultured EPC may achieve an angiogenic effect equivalent to cell therapy.
EPC-derived conditioned medium (EPC-CM) was obtained from culture expanded EPC subjected to 72 hours of hypoxia. In vitro, EPC-CM significantly inhibited apoptosis of mature endothelial cells and promoted angiogenesis in a rat aortic ring assay. The therapeutic potential of EPC-CM as compared to EPC transplantation was evaluated in a rat model of chronic hindlimb ischemia. Serial intramuscular injections of EPC-CM and EPC both significantly increased hindlimb blood flow assessed by laser Doppler (81.2±2.9% and 83.7±3.0% vs. 53.5±2.4% of normal, P<0.01) and improved muscle performance. A significantly increased capillary density (1.62±0.03 and 1.68±0.05/muscle fiber, P<0.05), enhanced vascular maturation (8.6±0.3 and 8.1±0.4/HPF, P<0.05) and muscle viability corroborated the findings of improved hindlimb perfusion and muscle function. Furthermore, EPC-CM transplantation stimulated the mobilization of bone marrow (BM)-derived EPC compared to control (678.7±44.1 vs. 340.0±29.1 CD34+/CD45− cells/1×105 mononuclear cells, P<0.05) and their recruitment to the ischemic muscles (5.9±0.7 vs. 2.6±0.4 CD34+ cells/HPF, P<0.001) 3 days after the last injection.
Intramuscular injection of EPC-CM is as effective as cell transplantation for promoting tissue revascularization and functional recovery. Owing to the technical and practical limitations of cell therapy, cell free conditioned media may represent a potent alternative for therapeutic angiogenesis in ischemic cardiovascular diseases.
Obesity-linked diseases are associated with suppressed endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) function. Adiponectin is an adipose-derived protein that is downregulated in obese and diabetic subjects. Here, we investigated the effects of adiponectin on EPCs. EPC levels did not increase in adiponectin deficient (APN-KO) in response to hindlimb ischemia. Adenovirus-mediated delivery of adiponectin increased EPC levels in both WT and APN-KO mice. Incubation of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells with adiponectin led to an increase of the number of EPCs. Adiponectin induced EPC differentiation into network structures and served as a chemoattractant in EPC migration assays. These data suggest that hypoadiponectinemia may contribute to the depression of EPC levels that are observed in patients with obesity-related cardiovascular disorders.
adiponectin; angiogenesis; endothelial progenitor cells
Bone marrow (BM) is the major reservoir for endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). Postnatal neovascularization depends on not only angiogenesis but also vasculogenesis, which is mediated through mobilization of EPCs from BM and their recruitment to the ischemic sites. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) derived from Nox2-based NADPH oxidase play an important role in postnatal neovascularization; however, their role in BM and EPC function is unknown. Here we show that hindlimb ischemia of mice significantly increases Nox2 expression and ROS production in BM-mononuclear cells (BMCs), which is associated with an increase in circulating EPC-like cells. Mice lacking Nox2 show reduction of ischemia-induced flow recovery, ROS levels in BMCs, as well as EPC mobilization from BM. Transplantation of wild-type (WT)-BM into Nox2-deficient mice rescues the defective neovascularization, whereas WT mice transplanted with Nox2-deficient BM show reduced flow recovery and capillary density compared to WT-BM transplanted control. Intravenous infusion of WT- and Nox2-deficient BMCs into WT mice reveals that neovascularization and homing capacity are impaired in Nox2-deficient BMCs in vivo. In vitro, Nox2-deficient c-kit+Lin− BM stem/progenitor cells show impaired chemotaxis and invasion as well as polarization of actins in response to stromal derived factor (SDF), which is associated with blunted SDF-1–mediated phosphorylation of Akt. In conclusion, Nox2-derived ROS in BM play a critical role in mobilization, homing, and angiogenic capacity of EPCs and BM stem/progenitor cells, thereby promoting revascularization of ischemic tissue. Thus, NADPH oxidase in BM and EPCs is potential therapeutic targets for promoting neovascularization in ischemic cardiovascular diseases.
NADPH oxidase; reactive oxygen species; angiogenesis; vasculogenesis; neovascularization; stromal derived factor; endothelial progenitor cells
Circulating endothelial progenitor cells (circEPCs) of bone marrow (BM) origin contribute to postnatal neovascularization and represent a potential therapeutic target for ischemic disease. Statins are beneficial for ischemia disease and have been implicated to increase neovascularization via mechanisms independent of lipid lowering. However, the effect of Statins on EPC function is not completely understood. Here we sought to investigate the effects of Rosuvastatin (Ros) on EPC mobilization and EPC-mediated neovascularization during ischemic injury. In a mouse model of surgically-induced hindlimb ischemia (HLI), treatment of mice with low dose (0.1 mg/kg) but not high dose (5 mg/kg) significantly increased capillary density and accelerated blood flow recovery, as compared to saline-treated group. When HLI was induced in mice that had received Tie2/LacZ BM transplantation, Ros treatment led a significantly larger amount of endothelial cells (ECs) of BM origin incorporated at ischemic sites than saline. After treatment of mice with a single low dose of Ros, circEPCs significantly increased from 2 h, peaked at 4 h, declined until 8 h. In a growth-factor reduced Matrigel plug-in assay, Ros treatment for 5 d induced endothelial lineage differentiation in vivo. Interestingly, the enhanced circEPCs and post-HLI neovascularization stimulated by Ros were blunted in mice deficient in endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), and Ros increased p-Akt/p-eNOS levels in EPCs in vitro, indicating these effects of Ros are dependent on eNOS activity. We conclude that Ros increases circEPCs and promotes their de novo differentiation through eNOS pathway.
Angiogenic therapy with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been proposed as a treatment paradigm for patients suffering from an insufficiency of collateral vessels. Diabetes is associated with increase in the production of VEGF and therefore additional VEGF may not be beneficial. Accordingly, we sought to determine the efficacy of VEGF therapy to augment collateral formation and tissue perfusion in a diabetic mouse ischemic hindlimb model.
Diabetic and non-diabetic mice were studied in parallel for the efficacy of VEGF administration. Diabetes was induced with streptozotocin. Hindlimb ischemia was produced by severing the left iliac artery. An outlet tube from an osmotic infusion pump with placebo/ 500 micrograms of plasmid-DNA encoding VEGF was fenestrated and tunneled into the left quadriceps muscle.
VEGF induced more rapid and complete restoration of blood flow in normal mice. However, in the setting of diabetes there was no difference between VEGF Vs. placebo in the rate or adequacy of flow restoration. There was a significant increase in smooth muscle actin and Factor-VIII antigen densities in diabetic animals and in animals which received VEGF.
Angiogenic therapy with VEGF in the setting of diabetes does not appear to have the beneficial effects seen in the absence of diabetes.
arteries; blood flow; collateral circulation; diabetes
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are known to promote neovascularization in ischemic diseases. Recent evidence suggested that diabetic neuropathy is causally related to impaired angiogenesis and deficient growth factors. Accordingly, we investigated whether diabetic neuropathy could be reversed by local transplantation of EPCs.
Methods and Results
We found that motor and sensory nerve conduction velocities, blood flow, and capillary density were reduced in sciatic nerves of streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice but recovered to normal levels after hind-limb injection of bone marrow–derived EPCs. Injected EPCs were preferentially and durably engrafted in the sciatic nerves. A portion of engrafted EPCs were uniquely localized in close proximity to vasa nervorum, and a smaller portion of these EPCs were colocalized with endothelial cells. Multiple angiogenic and neurotrophic factors were significantly increased in the EPC-injected nerves. These dual angiogenic and neurotrophic effects of EPCs were confirmed by higher proliferation of Schwann cells and endothelial cells cultured in EPC-conditioned media.
We demonstrate for the first time that bone marrow-derived EPCs could reverse various manifestations of diabetic neuropathy. These therapeutic effects were mediated by direct augmentation of neovascularization in peripheral nerves through long-term and preferential engraftment of EPCs in nerves and particularly vasa nervorum and their paracrine effects. These findings suggest that EPC transplantation could represent an innovative therapeutic option for treating diabetic neuropathy.
angiogenesis; diabetes mellitus; progenitor cells; diabetic neuropathy
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are essential in vasculogenesis and wound healing, but their circulating and wound level numbers are decreased in diabetes. This study aimed to determine mechanisms responsible for the diabetic defect in circulating and wound EPCs. Since mobilization of BM EPCs occurs via eNOS activation, we hypothesized that eNOS activation is impaired in diabetes, which results in reduced EPC mobilization. Since hyperoxia activates NOS in other tissues, we investigated whether hyperoxia restores EPC mobilization in diabetic mice through BM NOS activation. Additionally, we studied the hypothesis that impaired EPC homing in diabetes is due to decreased wound level stromal cell–derived factor–1α (SDF-1α), a chemokine that mediates EPC recruitment in ischemia. Diabetic mice showed impaired phosphorylation of BM eNOS, decreased circulating EPCs, and diminished SDF-1α expression in cutaneous wounds. Hyperoxia increased BM NO and circulating EPCs, effects inhibited by the NOS inhibitor N-nitro-
l-arginine-methyl ester. Administration of SDF-1α into wounds reversed the EPC homing impairment and, with hyperoxia, synergistically enhanced EPC mobilization, homing, and wound healing. Thus, hyperoxia reversed the diabetic defect in EPC mobilization, and SDF-1α reversed the diabetic defect in EPC homing. The targets identified, which we believe to be novel, can significantly advance the field of diabetic wound healing.
Recent studies revealed that erythropoietin (EPO) has tissue-protective effects in the heart by increasing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression and attenuating myocardial fibrosis in ischemia models. In this study, we investigated the effect of EPO on ventricular remodeling and blood vessel growth in diabetic rats.
Male SD rats were randomly divided into 3 groups: control rats, streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats, and diabetic rats treated with 1000 U/kg EPO by subcutaneous injection once per week. Twelve weeks later, echocardiography was conducted, and blood samples were collected for counting of peripheral blood endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). Myocardial tissues were collected, quantitative real-time PCR (RT-PCR) was used to detect the mRNA expression of VEGF and EPO-receptor (EPOR), and Western blotting was used to detect the protein expression of VEGF and EPOR. VEGF, EPOR, transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), and CD31 levels in the myocardium were determined by immunohistochemistry. To detect cardiac hypertrophy, immunohistochemistry of collagen type I, collagen type III, and Picrosirius Red staining were performed, and cardiomyocyte cross-sectional area was measured.
After 12 weeks STZ injection, blood glucose increased significantly and remained consistently elevated. EPO treatment significantly improved cardiac contractility and reduced diastolic dysfunction. Rats receiving the EPO injection showed a significant increase in circulating EPCs (27.85 ± 3.43%, P < 0.01) compared with diabetic untreated animals. EPO injection significantly increased capillary density as well as EPOR and VEGF expression in left ventricular myocardial tissue from diabetic rats. Moreover, EPO inhibited interstitial collagen deposition and reduced TGF-β expression.
Treatment with EPO protects cardiac tissue in diabetic animals by increasing VEGF and EPOR expression levels, leading to improved revascularization and the inhibition of cardiac fibrosis.
Erythropoietin; Vascular endothelial growth factor; Diabetes mellitus; Endothelial progenitor cell; Myocardial interstitial fibrosis; Transforming growth factor beta
This study examined effects of diabetes mellitus (DM) on cellular proliferation associated with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)signaling in endothelial progenitor cells (EPC’s)and evaluated protein expression involved in cellular proliferation and pro-apoptotic signaling in chronically ischemic myocardium.
Insulin dependent DM was induced in yucatan miniswine with alloxan. Eight weeks after induction, chronic ischemia was induced by ameroid constrictor placement around the circumflex coronary artery. Seven weeks after ameroid constrictor, perfusion of ischemic territory was measured by isotope-labeled microspheres, and ischemic myocardium was harvested. Bone marrow (BM) samples were harvested from iliac bone and mononuclear cells (MNC’s) were cryopreserved. EPC’s were isolated from cryopreserved MNC’s in control (n=6) and DM swine (n=6). EPC proliferation was assessed.
EPC proliferation was decreased in DM as compared to control (1.02±0.09, 0.40±0.04, p<0.01). VEGF induced EPC proliferation was impaired in DM as compared to control (p<0.01). Expression of ERK protein, an activator of VEGF induced cell proliferation, was decreased. AKT activation, an inhibitor of apoptosis, was decreased, while Bad, an activator of pro-apoptotic signaling, was elevated in the ischemic myocardium from DM. Collateral dependent perfusion was impaired in DM.
Impaired VEGF induced proliferation response in EPC as well as an increase in negative myocardial protein expression for cell proliferation and pro-apoptotic signaling via VEGF could be a therapeutic target to enhance the effects of pro-angiogenesis therapies in DM and other chronic illnesses.
Several vascular disease are characterized by elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Vascular endothelium is protected from oxidant stress by expressing enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase type 1 (GPx-1). In this study, we investigated the effect of vascular oxidant stress on ischemia-induced neovascularization in a murine model of homozygous deficiency of GPx-1. GPx-1– deficient mice showed impaired revascularization following hindlimb ischemic surgery based on laser Doppler measurements of blood flow and capillary density in adductor muscle. GPx-1– deficient mice also showed an impaired ability to increase endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) levels in response to ischemic injury or subcutaneous administration of vascular endothelial growth factor protein. EPCs isolated from GPx-1– deficient mice showed a reduced ability to neutralize oxidative stress in vitro, which was associated with impaired migration toward vascular endothelial growth factor and increased sensitivity to ROS-induced apoptosis. EPCs isolated from GPx-1– deficient mice were impaired in their ability to promote angiogenesis in wild-type mice, whereas wild-type EPCs were effective in stimulating angiogenesis in GPx-1– deficient mice. These data suggest that EPC dysfunction is a mechanism by which elevated levels of ROS can contribute to vascular disease.
glutathione peroxidase-1; hindlimb ischemia; endothelial progenitor cells; angiogenesis
Cell therapy with endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) has emerged as a promising strategy to regenerate the brain after stroke. Here, we aimed to investigate if treatment with EPCs or their secreted factors could potentiate angiogenesis and neurogenesis after permanent focal cerebral ischemia in a mouse model of ischemic stroke. BALB/C male mice were subjected to distal occlusion of the middle cerebral artery, and EPCs, cell-free conditioned media (CM) obtained from EPCs, or vehicle media were administered one day after ischemia. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed at baseline to confirm that the lesions were similar between groups. Immunohistochemical and histological evaluation of the brain was performed to evaluate angio-neurogenesis and neurological outcome at two weeks. CM contained growth factors, such as VEGF, FGF-b and PDGF-bb. A significant increase in capillary density was noted in the peri-infarct areas of EPC- and CM-treated animals. Bielschowsky’s staining revealed a significant increase in axonal rewiring in EPC-treated animals compared with shams, but not in CM-treated mice, in close proximity with DCX-positive migrating neuroblasts. At the functional level, post-ischemia forelimb strength was significantly improved in animals receiving EPCs or CM, but not in those receiving vehicle media. In conclusion, we demonstrate for the first time that the administration of EPC-secreted factors could become a safe and effective cell-free option to be considered in future therapeutic strategies for stroke.
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play a critical role in restoration of ischemic diseases. However, the actual status of EPC development and the mechanisms of EPC dysfunctions in patients with various ischemic diseases remain unknown.
To investigate the detailed function of EPCs in experimental murine models, we have established an EPC colony forming assay (EPC-CFA) in murine EPCs. The abilities of murine EPCs in differentiation, adhesive capacity, proliferative potency, and transplantation in vitro and in vivo were then examined.
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PB-MNCs), bone marrow mononuclear cells (BM-MNCs) or bone marrow c-Kit+/Sca-1+ lineage negative (BM-KSL) cells differentiated into two types of EPC colony forming units (EPC-CFUs), large sized EPC (large-EPC)-CFUs and small sized EPC (small-EPC)-CFUs. Gene expression analysis demonstrated that both EPC-CFU-derived cells expressed eNOS, Flk-1 and VE-cadherin, markers of endothelial cells (ECs), although the small-EPCs derived from small-EPC-CFU were higher in number and showed more immature features (higher population of KSL cells). Functionally, the large-EPCs derived from large-EPC-CFU had higher adhesive capacity but lower proliferative potency than small-EPCs, showing improved tubular forming capacity and incorporation potency into primary EC-derived tube formation. Importantly, hindlimb ischemia increased the frequencies of large-EPC-CFUs differentiated from PB-MNCs and bone marrow. Actually, transplantation of large-EPCs into ischemic hindlimb enhanced neovascularization in hindlimb ischemia model, although small-EPCs or murine ECs did not, suggesting that large-EPC-CFUs might play an important role in restoration of ischemic diseases.
We demonstrated, using a murine ischemia model, that the EPC-CFA could be a useful way to investigate the differentiation levels of murine EPCs, further providing a crucial clue that large-EPC-CFU status may be more functional or effective EPCs to promote neovascularization.
The vascular endothelium is a critical determinant of diabetes-associated vascular complications, and improving endothelial function is an important target for therapy. Diabetes mellitus contributes to endothelial cell injury and dysfunction. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play a critical role in maintaining endothelial function and might affect the progression of vascular disease. EPCs are essential to blood vessel formation, can differentiate into mature endothelial cells, and promote the repair of damaged endothelium. In diabetes, the circulating EPC count is low and their functionality is impaired. The mechanisms that underlie this reduced count and impaired functionality are poorly understood. Knowledge of the status of EPCs is critical for assessing the health of the vascular system, and interventions that increase the number of EPCs and restore their angiogenic activity in diabetes may prove to be particularly beneficial. The present review outlines current thinking on EPCs’ therapeutic potential in endothelial dysfunction in diabetes, as well as evidence-based perspectives regarding their use for vascular regenerative medicine.
Diabetes mellitus; Vascular dysfunction; Endothelial progenitor cells
The mechanisms of homing of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) to sites of ischemia are unclear. Here, we demonstrate that ex vivo–expanded EPCs as well as murine hematopoietic Sca-1+/Lin− progenitor cells express β2-integrins, which mediate the adhesion of EPCs to endothelial cell monolayers and their chemokine-induced transendothelial migration in vitro. In a murine model of hind limb ischemia, Sca-1+/Lin− hematopoietic progenitor cells from β2-integrin–deficient mice are less capable of homing to sites of ischemia and of improving neovascularization. Preactivation of the β2-integrins expressed on EPCs by activating antibodies augments the EPC-induced neovascularization in vivo. These results provide evidence for a novel function of β2-integrins in postnatal vasculogenesis.
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), critical for mediating vascular repair, are dysfunctional in a hyperglycemic and/or hypercholesterolemic environment. Their dysfunction contributes to the progression of diabetic macro- and microvascular complications. Activation of “cholesterol-sensing” nuclear receptors, the liver X receptors (LXRα/LXRβ), protects against atherosclerosis by transcriptional regulation of genes important in promoting cholesterol efflux and inhibiting inflammation. We hypothesized that LXR activation with a synthetic ligand would correct diabetes-induced EPC dysfunction and improve diabetic retinopathy. Studies were performed in streptozotocin (STZ)-injected DBA/2J mice fed a high-fat Western diet (DBA/STZ/WD) and treated with the LXR agonist GW3965 and in LXRα−/−, LXRβ−/−, and LXRα/β−/− mice. Retinas were evaluated for number of acellular capillaries and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunoreactivity. Bone marrow EPCs were analyzed for migratory function and gene expression. Compared with vehicle-treated DBA/STZ/WD mice, GW3965 treated mice showed fewer acellular capillaries and reduced GFAP expression. These mice also exhibited enhanced EPC migration and restoration of inflammatory and oxidative stress genes toward nondiabetic levels. LXRα−/−, LXRβ−/−, and LXRα/β−/− mice developed acellular capillaries and EPC dysfunction similar to the DBA/STZ/WD mice. These studies support a key role for LXR in retinal and bone marrow progenitor dysfunction associated with type 1 diabetes. LXR agonists may represent promising pharmacologic targets for correcting retinopathy and EPC dysfunction.
Human tissue kallikrein (hTK) plays an essential role in the physiological and pathological mechanisms of blood vessels. This study aimed to determine whether angiogenesis induced by endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) transduced with the adenovirus-mediated hTK gene could improve blood flow in rat hindlimb ischemia in vivo and to establish a promising mechanism in vitro.
EPCs transduced with adenovirus encoding hTK-162 (i.e., Ad/hTK-transduced EPCs or Ad/GFP-transduced EPCs) were administered to Wister rats with hindlimb ischemia through therapeutic neovascularization. Muscular capillary density (MCD), blood flow (BF), and the number of myofibers were measured at days 7, 14, and 21 after treatment. Expressions of integrin αvβ3 and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) were detected on the surface of EPCs.
MCD, BF, and the number of myofibers in rats with Ad/hTK-transduced EPCs remarkably increased at day 21 after treatment compared with rats with Ad/GFP-transduced EPCs or the control group (P<0.01). Expressions of integrin αvβ3 and eNOS protein on the surface of EPCs also increased in rats with Ad/hTK-transduced EPCs. The levels of integrin αvβ3 expression were reduced by PI3K and eNOS blockade, and the inhibitor of integrin αvβ3 abrogated the migration and adhesion of hTK-transduced EPCs (P<0.05).
hTK gene delivery in vivo improves the natural angiogenic response to ischemia. The ability of hTK gene-transduced EPCs can be enhanced in vitro, in which integrin αvβ3 plays a role in the process.
Stroke is associated with high disability and mortality burdens worldwide, but there are few effective and widely available therapies. There is therefore a need to develop treatments that promote the repair and regeneration of ischemic brain tissue. In this regard, a population of adult stem cells-called endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs)-has been identified in peripheral blood that could provide novel approaches in regenerative medicine for curing patients with acute ischemic stroke. There is accumulating evidence that EPCs can repair damaged endothelia and attenuate the development and progression of atherosclerosis. Also, EPCs can be recruited in response to acute ischemic events and participate in reparative vasculogenesis. Most studies related to EPCs have involved patients with cardiovascular diseases, and there is emerging evidence that EPCs represent a risk marker and a potential therapeutic agent in cerebrovascular disease. Here we review the characteristics and biology of EPCs in cerebrovascular disease and discuss the challenges that must be addressed to clarify the role and therapeutic applicability of EPCs in cerebrovascular disease.
endothelial progenitor cells; cerebrovascular disease; stroke; atherosclerosis; regeneration
Cell-based therapy has emerged as a promising therapeutic tool for treatment of ischemic cardiovascular disease. Both unselected bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells (BMNCs), which include stem/progenitor cells and several other cell types, and endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), a subpopulation of BMNCs, display regenerative potential in ischemic tissue. Abundant evidence supports the involvement of EPCs in capillary growth, and EPCs also appear to participate in the formation of collateral vessels. Collectively, these effects have led to improved perfusion and functional recovery in animal models of myocardial and peripheral ischemia, and in early clinical trials, the therapeutic administration of EPCs to patients with myocardial infarction or chronic angina have been associated with positive trends in perfusion. EPCs also contribute to endothelial repair and may, consequently, impede the development or progression of arteriosclerosis. This review provides a brief summary of the preclinical and clinical evidence for the role of EPCs in blood-vessel formation and repair during ischemic cardiovascular disease.
Endothelial progenitor cell; Vasculogenesis; Collateral formation
Impaired revascularization of transplanted islets is a critical problem that leads to progressive islet loss. Since endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are known to aid neovascularization, we aimed to enhance islet engraftment by cotransplanting EPCs with islets. Porcine islets, with (islet-EPC group) or without (islet-only group) human cord blood–derived EPCs, were transplanted into diabetic nude mice. The islet-EPC group reached euglycemia by ∼11 days posttransplantation, whereas the islet-only group did not. Also, the islet-EPC group had a higher serum porcine insulin level than the islet-only group. Islets from the islet-EPC group were more rapidly revascularized at the early period of transplantation without increment of final capillary density at the fully revascularized graft. Enhanced revascularization rate in the islet-EPC group was mainly attributed to stimulating vascular endothelial growth factor-A production from the graft. The rapid revascularization by EPC cotransplantation led to better graft perfusion and recovery from hypoxia. EPC cotransplantation was also associated with greater β-cell proliferation, probably by more basement membrane production and hepatocyte growth factor secretion. In conclusion, cotransplantation of EPCs and islets induces better islet engraftment by enhancing the rate of graft revascularization. These findings might provide a directly applicable tool to enhance the efficacy of islet transplantation in clinical practice.
Circulating Endothelial Progenitor Cell (EPC) levels are reduced in diabetes mellitus. This may be a consequence of impaired mobilization of EPC from the bone marrow. We hypothesized that under diabetic conditions, mobilization of EPC from the bone marrow to the circulation is impaired –at least partly– due to dysfunction of the bone marrow stromal compartment.
Diabetes was induced in mice by streptozotocin injection. Circulating Sca-1+Flk-1+ EPC were characterized and quantified by flow cytometry at baseline and after mobilization with G-CSF/SCF injections. In vivo hemangiogenic recovery was tested by 5-FU challenge. Interaction within the bone marrow environment between CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPC) and supporting stroma was assessed by co-cultures. To study progenitor cell–endothelial cell interaction under normoglycemic and hyperglycemic conditions, a co-culture model using E4Orf1-transfected human endothelial cells was employed.
In diabetic mice, bone marrow EPC levels were unaffected. However, circulating EPC levels in blood were lower at baseline and mobilization was attenuated. Diabetic mice failed to recover and repopulate from 5-FU injection. In vitro, primary cultured bone marrow stroma from diabetic mice was impaired in its capacity to support human CFU-forming HPC. Finally, hyperglycemia hampered the HPC supportive function of endothelial cells in vitro.
EPC mobilization is impaired under experimental diabetic conditions and our data suggest that diabetes induces alterations in the progenitor cell supportive capacity of the bone marrow stroma, which could be partially responsible for the attenuated EPC mobilization and reduced EPC levels observed in diabetic patients.
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have been isolated from circulating mononuclear cells in peripheral blood and shown to incorporate into foci of neovascularization, consistent with postnatal vasculogenesis. These circulating EPCs are derived from bone marrow and are mobilized endogenously in response to tissue ischemia or exogenously by cytokine stimulation. We show here, using a chemotaxis assay of bone marrow mononuclear cells in vitro and EPC culture assay of peripheral blood from simvastatin-treated animals in vivo, that the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, simvastatin, augments the circulating population of EPCs. Direct evidence that this increased pool of circulating EPCs originates from bone marrow and may enhance neovascularization was demonstrated in simvastatin-treated mice transplanted with bone marrow from transgenic donors expressing β-galactosidase transcriptionally regulated by the endothelial cell-specific Tie-2 promoter. The role of Akt signaling in mediating effects of statin on EPCs is suggested by the observation that simvastatin rapidly activates Akt protein kinase in EPCs, enhancing proliferative and migratory activities and cell survival. Furthermore, dominant negative Akt overexpression leads to functional blocking of EPC bioactivity. These findings establish that augmented mobilization of bone marrow–derived EPCs through stimulation of the Akt signaling pathway constitutes a novel function for HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.
Deficient angiogenesis after ischemia may contribute to worse outcome of peripheral arterial disease in patients with diabetes mellitus. Based on our previous work where we demonstrated that Secretoneurin (SN) is up-regulated under hypoxic conditions and enhances angiogenesis, we analyzed the therapeutic potential of SN gene therapy using a model of severe hind limb ischemia in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice (STZ-DM). After induction of hind limb ischemia, blood flow was assessed by means of laser Doppler perfusion imaging (LDPI) and increased blood perfusion in the SN-treated animal group was observed. These results were complemented by the clinical observation of reduced necrosis and by an increased number of capillaries and arterioles in the SN-treated animal group. In vitro, we found that SN is capable of promoting proliferation and chemotaxis and reduces apoptosis in HUVECs cultured under hyperglycemic conditions. Additionally, SN activated ERK, eNOS and especially AKT as well as EGF-receptor in hyperglycemic HUVECs. In conclusion, we show that SN gene therapy improves post-ischemic neovascularization in diabetic mice through stimulation of angiogenesis and arteriogenesis indicating a possible therapeutic role of this factor in ischemia-related diseases in diabetic patients.
Background and aim
We tested the hypothesis that obesity reduced circulating number of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), angiogenic ability, and blood flow in ischemic tissue that could be reversed after obesity control.
8-week-old C57BL/6J mice (n = 27) were equally divided into group 1 (fed with 22-week control diet), group 2 (22-week high fat diet), and group 3 (14-week high fat diet, followed by 8-week control diet). Critical limb ischemia (CLI) was induced at week 20 in groups 2 and 3. The animals were sacrificed at the end of 22 weeks.
Heart weight, body weight, abdominal fat weight, serum total cholesterol level, and fasting blood sugar were highest in group 2 (all p < 0.001). The numbers of circulating EPCs (C-kit/CD31+, Sca-1/KDR + and CXCR4/CD34+) were lower in groups 1 and 2 than in group 3 at 18 h after CLI induction (p < 0.03). The numbers of differentiated EPCs (C-kit/CD31+, CXCR4/CD34+ and CD133+) from adipose tissue after 14-day cultivation were also lowest in group 2 (p < 0.001). Protein expressions of VCAM-1, oxidative index, Smad3, and TGF-β were higher, whereas the Smad1/5 and BMP-2, mitochondrial cytochrome-C SDF-1α and CXCR4 were lower in group 2 than in groups 1 and 3 (all p < 0.02). Immunofluorescent staining of CD31+ and vWF + cells, the number of small vessel (<15 μm), and blood flow through Laser Doppler scanning of ischemic area were lower in group 2 compared to groups 1 and 3 on day 14 after CLI induction (all p < 0.001).
Obesity suppressed abilities of angiogenesis and recovery from CLI that were reversed by obesity control.
Obesity control; Endothelial progenitor cells; Angiogenesis; Critical limb ischemia
Stem cells/progenitors are central to the development of cell therapy approaches for vascular ischemic diseases. The crucial step in rescuing tissues from ischemia is improvement of vascularization that can be achieved by promoting neovascularization. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are the best candidates for developing such an approach due to their ability to self-renew, circulate and differentiate into mature endothelial cells (ECs). Studies showed that intravenously administered progenitors isolated from bone marrow, peripheral or cord blood home to ischemic sites. However, the successful clinical application of such transplantation therapy is limited by low quantities of EPCs that can be generated from patients. Hence, the ability to amplify the numbers of autologous EPCs by long term in vitro expansion while preserving their angiogenic potential is critically important for developing EPC based therapies. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the capacity of cord blood (CB)-derived AC133+ cells to differentiate, in vitro, towards functional, mature endothelial cells (ECs) after long term in vitro expansion.
We systematically characterized the properties of CB AC133+ cells over the 30 days of in vitro expansion. During 30 days of culturing, CB AC133+ cells exhibited significant growth potential that was manifested as 148-fold increase in cell numbers. Flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry demonstrated that CB AC133+ cells' expression of endothelial progenitor markers was not affected by long term in vitro culturing. After culturing under EC differentiation conditions, cells exhibited high expression of mature ECs markers, such as CD31, VEGFR-2 and von Willebrand factor, as well as the morphological changes indicative of differentiation towards mature ECs. In addition, throughout the 30 day culture cells preserved their functional capacity that was demonstrated by high uptake of DiI fluorescently conjugated-acetylated-low density lipoprotein (DiI-Ac-LDL), in vitro and in vivo migration towards chemotactic stimuli and in vitro tube formation.
These studies demonstrate that primary CB AC133+ culture contained mainly EPCs and that long term in vitro conditions facilitated the maintenance of these cells in the state of commitment towards endothelial lineage.