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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2003 Jul 1;23(7):1185-9. Epub 2003 Apr 24.

Endothelial progenitor cells: mobilization, differentiation, and homing.

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Institut für Prophylaxe und Epidemiologie der Kreislaufkrankheiten, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Pettenkoferstr. 9, 80336 München, Germany.


Postnatal bone marrow contains a subtype of progenitor cells that have the capacity to migrate to the peripheral circulation and to differentiate into mature endothelial cells. Therefore, these cells have been termed endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). The isolation of EPCs by adherence culture or magnetic microbeads has been described. In general, EPCs are characterized by the expression of 3 markers, CD133, CD34, and the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2. During differentiation, EPCs obviously lose CD133 and start to express CD31, vascular endothelial cadherin, and von Willebrand factor. EPCs seem to participate in endothelial repair and neovascularization of ischemic organs. Clinical studies using EPCs for neovascularization have just been started; however, the mechanisms stimulating or inhibiting the differentiation of EPC in vivo and the signals causing their migration and homing to sites of injured endothelium or extravascular tissue are largely unknown at present. Thus, future studies will help to explore areas of potential basic research and clinical application of EPCs.

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