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J Vasc Surg. 2006 Jan;43(1):134-41.

The bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cell response is impaired in delayed wound healing from ischemia.

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  • 1Hospital of University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19124, USA.



Vasculogenesis relies on the recruitment of bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (BMD EPCs) and is stimulated by tissue-level ischemia. We hypothesized that the BMD EPC response is impaired in ischemic wounds and studied the relationship between BMD EPCs and wound healing.


We used transgenic Tie-2/LacZ mice, which carry the beta-galactosidase (beta-gal) reporter gene under Tie-2 promoter control. Wild-type mice were lethally irradiated and reconstituted with Tie-2/LacZ bone marrow. Four weeks later, the mice underwent unilateral femoral artery ligation/excision and bilateral wounding of the hindlimbs. Ischemia was confirmed and monitored with laser Doppler imaging. A subset of mice received incisional vs excisional nonischemic bilateral hindlimb wounds, without femoral ligation. Excisional wound closure was measured by using daily digital imaging and software-assisted calculation of surface area.


Ischemia resulted in significantly delayed wound healing and differentially affected the number of BMD EPCs recruited to wound granulation tissue and muscle underlying the wounds. At 3 days postwounding, the granulation tissue of the wound base contained significantly fewer numbers of BMD EPCs in ischemic wounds compared with the nonischemic wounds (P < .05). In contrast, significantly more BMD EPCs were present in the muscle underlying the ischemic wounds at this same time point compared with the muscle under the nonischemic wounds (P < .05). In ischemic wounds, eventual wound closure significantly correlated with a delayed rise in BMD EPCs within the wound granulation tissue (Kendall's correlation, -.811, P = .0005) and was significantly associated with a gradual recovery of hindlimb perfusion (P < .0001). By 7 days postwounding, BMD EPCs were incorporated into the neovessels in the granulation tissue. At 14 days and 75 days, BMD EPCs were rarely observed within the wounds.


Granulation tissue of excisional ischemic wounds showed significantly less BMD EPCs 3 days postwounding, in association with significantly delayed wound closure. However, the number of BMD EPCs were increased in ischemic hindlimb skeletal muscle, consistent with the notion that ischemia is a powerful signal for vasculogenesis. To our knowledge, this is the first report identifying a deficit in BMD EPCs in the granulation tissue of ischemic skin wounds and reporting the key role for these cells in both ischemic and nonischemic wound healing.

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