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PLoS One. 2009 May 21;4(5):e5643. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005643.

Novel cell-free strategy for therapeutic angiogenesis: in vitro generated conditioned medium can replace progenitor cell transplantation.

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  • 1Department of Vascular Medicine, Swiss Cardiovascular Center, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

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.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

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/1x10(5) 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.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

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.

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