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Circulation. 2007 Oct 9;116(15):1671-82. Epub 2007 Oct 1.

Identification of a novel role of T cells in postnatal vasculogenesis: characterization of endothelial progenitor cell colonies.

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1
Innovative Research Institute for Cell Therapy, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The colony number of early endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) has been used as a quantitative indicator of the number of EPCs in the blood or as a biological marker of cardiovascular diseases. In the present study, we found a subset of T cells that were localized at the center of the EPC colony and played a pivotal role in colony formation and differentiation of early EPCs.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

We found that CD3+ CD31+ CXCR4+ T cells (referred to as angiogenic T cells in the present study) constituted the center of EPC colonies during cultures of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. These angiogenic T cells were required for colony formation and differentiation of early EPCs. They secreted high levels of angiogenic cytokines such as vascular endothelial growth factor, interleukin-8, and matrix metalloproteinases. Angiogenic T cells showed superior angiogenic potential to the other subset of T cells in the experiments with regard to Matrigel tube formation, adhesion, transendothelial migration, and collagen invasion assay, mainly through the stromal cell-derived factor 1/CXCR-4 axis. Furthermore, angiogenic T cells enhanced endothelial cell proliferation and function. In vivo study showed that angiogenic T cells play an important role in the process of vessel formation. Clinical study showed that the level of angiogenic T cells in the peripheral blood was well correlated with EPC colony numbers and had inverse relationships with age and the number of risk factors for coronary artery disease.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings suggest that angiogenic T cells could be a potential therapeutic target for ischemic cardiovascular diseases.

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