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Blood. 2006 Oct 15;108(8):2857-66. Epub 2006 Jun 29.

VCAM-1 expression on dystrophic muscle vessels has a critical role in the recruitment of human blood-derived CD133+ stem cells after intra-arterial transplantation.

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  • 1Stem Cell Laboratory, Department of Neurological Sciences, IRCCS, Centro Dino Ferrari, University of Milan, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, via Francesco Sforza 35, 20122 Milan, Italy.


Recently our group demonstrated the myogenic capacity of human CD133(+) cells isolated from peripheral blood when delivered in vivo through the arterial circulation into the muscle of dystrophic scid/mdx mice. CD133(+) stem cells express the adhesion molecules CD44, LFA-1, PSGL-1, alpha4-integrins, L-selectin, and chemokine receptor CCR7. Moreover these cells adhere in vitro to VCAM-1 spontaneously and after stimulation with CCL19. Importantly, after muscle exercise, we found that the expression of VCAM-1 is strongly up-regulated in dystrophic muscle vessels, whereas the number of rolling and firmly adhered CD133(+) stem cells significantly increased. Moreover, human dystrophin expression was significantly increased when muscle exercise was performed 24 hours before the intra-arterial injection of human CD133(+) cells. Finally, treatment of exercised dystrophic mice with anti-VCAM-1 antibodies led to a dramatic blockade of CD133(+) stem cell migration into the dystrophic muscle. Our results show for the first time that the expression of VCAM-1 on dystrophic muscle vessels induced by exercise controls muscle homing of human CD133(+) stem cells, opening new perspectives for a potential therapy of muscular dystrophy based on the intra-arterial delivery of CD133(+) stem cells.

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