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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2007 Jan;292(1):H1-18. Epub 2006 Sep 15.

Biology of bone marrow-derived endothelial cell precursors.

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Integrative Physiology FH412, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Over the past decade, the old idea that the bone marrow contains endothelial cell precursors has become an area of renewed interest. While some still believe that there are no endothelial precursors in the blood, even among those who do, there is no consensus as to what they are or what they do. In this review, we describe the problems in identifying endothelial cells and conclude that expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase may be the most reliable antigenic indicator of the phenotype. The evidence for two different classes of endothelial precursors is also presented. We suggest that, though there is no single endothelial cell precursor, we may be able to use these phenotypic variations to our advantage in better understanding their biology. We also discuss how a variety of genetic, epigenetic, and methodological differences can account for the seemingly contradictory findings on the physiological relevance of bone marrow-derived precursors in normal vascular maintenance and in response to injury. Data on the impact of tumor type and location on the contribution of bone marrow-derived cells to the tumor vasculature are also presented. These data provide hope that we may ultimately be able to predict those tumors in which bone marrow-derived cells will have a significant contribution and design therapies accordingly. Finally, factors that regulate bone marrow cell recruitment to and function in the endothelium are beginning to be identified, and several of these, including stromal derived factor 1, monocyte chemoattractant factor-1, and vascular endothelial growth factor are discussed.

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