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Blood. 2004 Apr 1;103(7):2577-84. Epub 2003 Nov 20.

Human endothelial cells derived from circulating progenitors display specific functional properties compared with mature vessel wall endothelial cells.

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  • 1INSERM U506, Hôpital Paul Brousse, Villejuif, France.


Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) were shown to be present in systemic circulation and cord blood. We investigated whether EPCs display specific properties compared with mature endothelial cells. Human cord blood CD34+ cells were isolated and adherent cells were amplified under endothelial conditions. Expression of specific markers identified them as endothelial cells, also called endothelial progenitor-derived cells (EPDCs). When compared to mature endothelial cells, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and human bone marrow endothelial cells (HBMECs), endothelial markers, were expressed to the same extent except for KDR, which is expressed more in EPDCs. They display a higher proliferation potential. Functional studies demonstrated that EPDCs were more sensitive to angiogenic factors, which afford these cells greater protection against cell death compared with HUVECs. Moreover, EPDCs exhibit more hematopoietic supportive activity than HUVECs. Finally, studies in nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD/SCID) mice demonstrated that human circulating EPCs are able to colonize a Matrigel plug. EPDCs display the morphology and phenotype of endothelial cells. Their functional features indicate, however, that although these cells have undergone some differentiation steps, they still have the properties of immature cells, suggesting greater tissue repair capabilities. Future use of in vitro amplified peripheral blood EPDCs may constitute a challenging strategy for cell therapy.

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