We characterized and correlated endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) and circulating progenitor cells (CPCs) with lack of vascular complications in the Joslin Medalist Study in patients with type 1 diabetes for 50 years or longer.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
EPC and CPC levels were ascertained by flow cytometry and compared among Medalists (n = 172) with or without diabetic retinopathy (DR; n = 84 of 162), neuropathy (n = 94 of 165), diabetic nephropathy (DN; n = 18 of 172), cardiovascular disease (CVD; n = 63 of 168), age-matched controls (n = 83), type 2 diabetic patients (n = 36), and younger type 1 diabetic patients (n = 31). Mitogens, inflammatory cytokines, and oxidative markers were measured in blood or urine. Migration of cultured peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from Medalists and age-matched controls were compared.
Medalists’ EPC and CPC levels equaled those of their nondiabetic age-matched controls, were 10% higher than those in younger type 1 diabetic patients, and were 20% higher than those in age-matched type 2 diabetic patients. CPC levels were 15% higher in Medalists without CVD and nephropathy than in those affected, whereas EPC levels were significantly higher in those without peripheral vascular disease (PVD) than those with PVD. Stromal-derived factor 1 (SDF-1) levels were higher in Medalists with CVD, DN, and DR than in those not affected and their controls. IGF-I levels were lower in Medalists and correlated inversely with CPC levels. Additionally, cultured PBMCs from Medalists migrated more than those from nondiabetic controls.
Normal levels of EPC and CPC in the Medalists, unlike other groups with diabetes, especially those without CVD, support the idea that endogenous factors exist to neutralize the adverse effects of metabolic abnormalities of diabetes on vascular tissues.