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Concerns and hopes for stem cell therapy in cardiology: focus on endothelial progenitor cells.

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  • 1University of Ferrara, Cardiovascular Institute, University Hospital of Ferrara, C.rso Giovecca 203, 44121 Ferrara, Italy.


The crucial role played by the endothelium in cardiovascular disorders has been repetitively recognised. Endothelium injury has been implicated in atherosclerosis, thrombosis, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Recently, however, research has undertaken a new avenue. As mature endothelial cells posses limited regenerative capacities, the interest has been switched to the circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). Indeed, the scientific community has made progress in understanding the role of EPCs in the maintenance of endothelial integrity and function as well as post natal neovascularisation. It has been suggested that these cells are able to home in the site of heart injury / damage and that they might take part in angiogenesis, giving hope for new treatment opportunities. There is evidence that reduced availability of EPCs or impairment of their function is associated with more severe CV disease and to comorbid risk factors. Different current drug regimes are able to influence bone marrow production and release of EPCs and several growth factors are considered for possible useful new therapeutic approaches. Thus, many studies into the potential use of EPCs in the clinical setting have recently been conducted with conflicting results. The goal of this review article is to discuss current therapies to regenerate new vessels and therefore to enhance myocardial function. The article overviews the search strategy and the pathophysiological aspects behind this therapy, consider the target currently under investigation and set the stage for new ideas.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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