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Atherosclerosis. 2011 Mar;215(1):9-22. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.10.039. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Endothelial progenitor cells as therapeutic agents in the microcirculation: an update.

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Department of General Pathology, Division of Clinical Pathology and Excellence Research Center on Cardiovascular Diseases, 1st School of Medicine, II University of Naples, 80138 Naples, Italy.


This review evaluates novel beneficial effects of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) as shown by several preclinical studies and clinical trials carried out to test the safety and feasibility of using EPCs. There are 31 registered clinical trials (and many others still ongoing) and 19 published studies. EPCs originate in the bone marrow and migrate into the bloodstream where they undergo a differentiation program leading to major changes in their antigenic characteristics. EPCs lose typical progenitor markers and acquire endothelial markers, and two important receptors, (VEGFR and CXCR-4), which recruit circulating EPCs to damaged or ischemic microcirculatory (homing to damaged tissues) beds. Overall, therapeutic angiogenesis will likely change the face of regenerative medicine in the next decade with many patients worldwide predicted to benefit from these treatments.

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