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Blood. 2007 May 15;109(10):4264-71. Epub 2007 Feb 8.

C-KIT, by interacting with the membrane-bound ligand, recruits endothelial progenitor cells to inflamed endothelium.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Turin, Italy.


We investigated the role of c-Kit and the membrane-bound ligand (mbKitL) in endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) recruitment by microvascular endothelial cells (ECs). We demonstrated that inflammatory activation induced the expression of the mbKitL on ECs both in vitro and in vivo, and that recruitment of EPCs depended on c-Kit/mbKitL interaction. Depletion of endogenous c-Kit or inhibition of c-Kit enzymatic activity by imatinib mesylate prevented adhesion of EPCs to activated ECs both in vitro and in vivo, indicating that a functional c-Kit on EPCs is essential. We also demonstrate that Akt was the downstream molecule regulating cell adhesion. A potential role of the c-Kit/mbKitL interaction in pathological settings is sustained by the expression of the mbKitL on ECs lining intraplaque neovessels. Thus, our results provide new insights into the mechanisms underlying EPC recruitment and the bases for novel strategies to hinder pathological angiogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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