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Front Med (Lausanne). 2018 Oct 23;5:295. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2018.00295. eCollection 2018.

Recent Advances in Endothelial Colony Forming Cells Toward Their Use in Clinical Translation.

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Vascular Sciences, National Heart and Lung Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.


The term "Endothelial progenitor cell" (EPC) has been used to describe multiple cell populations that express endothelial surface makers and promote vascularisation. However, the only population that has all the characteristics of a real "EPC" is the Endothelial Colony Forming Cells (ECFC). ECFC possess clonal proliferative potential, display endothelial and not myeloid cell surface markers, and exhibit pronounced postnatal vascularisation ability in vivo. ECFC have been used to investigate endothelial molecular dysfunction in several diseases, as they give access to endothelial cells from patients in a non-invasive way. ECFC also represent a promising tool for revascularization of damaged tissue. Here we review the translational applications of ECFC research. We discuss studies which have used ECFC to investigate molecular endothelial abnormalities in several diseases and review the evidence supporting the use of ECFC for autologous cell therapy, gene therapy and tissue regeneration. Finally, we discuss ways to improve the therapeutic efficacy of ECFC in clinical applications, as well as the challenges that must be overcome to use ECFC in clinical trials for regenerative approaches.


blood outgrowth endothelial cells; cell therapy; endothelial progenitors; gene therapy; tissue bioengineering; vascular regeneration

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