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Atherosclerosis. 2007 May;192(1):92-9. Epub 2006 Aug 1.

High-density lipoprotein cholesterol regulates endothelial progenitor cells by increasing eNOS and preventing apoptosis.

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1
Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, Endothelial Progenitor Cell Laboratory, 771 HMRC, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta. T6G 2S2, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are implicated as an important marker of endothelial function and cardiovascular risk. In the present study, we examined whether high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol plays a role in the peripheral EPC levels and its underlying mechanisms in the HDL cholesterol-induced elevation of EPCs.

METHODS:

For the clinical study, vascular risk factors and blood markers were measured and EPC colony forming units were counted after 7 days of culture. For the in vitro study, after 7 days of culture, EPCs were incubated in the presence or absence of HDL for 24h followed by measurements of eNOS and pro-MMP-9 expression and caspase-3 activity.

RESULTS:

EPC colony levels significantly correlated with HDL levels (P=0.017). HDL treatment significantly increased eNOS protein expression in EPCs (P<0.001) while it significantly decreased pro-MMP-9 levels at the concentration of 50 microg/mL (P=0.002). Homocysteine treatment significantly increased caspase-3 activity whereas HDL significantly decreased it as compared to the homocysteine-only treated group.

INTERPRETATION:

The data demonstrate that EPC colony levels are significantly lower in individuals with low HDL and that HDL increases eNOS and decreases pro-MMP-9 in EPCs. HDL also prevents EPC apoptosis through inhibition of caspase-3 activity suggesting a possible mechanism for its positive effects on circulating EPC numbers.

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