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Kidney Int. 2005 May;67(5):1672-6.

Risk factors for coronary artery disease, circulating endothelial progenitor cells, and the role of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.

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  • 1Molecular Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine III, University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany.

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that postnatal neovascularization relies not exclusively on sprouting of preexisting vessels ("angiogenesis"), but also involves the contribution of bone marrow-derived circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). EPCs can be isolated from peripheral blood or bone marrow mononuclear cells, CD34(+) or CD133(+) hematopoietic progenitors. Infusion of EPCs was shown to promote postnatal neovascularization of ischemic tissue after myocardial infarction in animal models and initial clinical trials. Moreover, circulating endothelial precursor cells can home to denuded arteries after balloon injury and contribute to endothelial regeneration, thereby limiting the development of restenosis. Thus, circulating endothelial cells may exert an important function as endogenous repair mechanism to maintain the integrity of the endothelial monolayer and to promote ischemia-induced neovascularization. However, risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension are associated with impaired number and function of EPC in patients with coronary artery disease. Therapeutically, the reduction of EPC number and the decreased functional activity in patients with coronary artery disease was counteracted by 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzymeA (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), estrogen, or exercise. At the molecular level, these factors are well established to activate the phosphatidyl-inositol-3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt-dependent activation of the endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), suggesting that the PI3K-Akt-eNOS signaling pathway may be involved in the transduction of atheroprotective factors. Taken together, the balance of atheroprotective and proatherosclerotic factors may influence EPC levels and their functional capacity to improve neovascularization and endothelial regeneration.

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