[Frontiers in Bioscience 17, 2327-2349, June 1, 2012]

Endothelial progenitor cells in atherosclerosis

Fuyong Du1,2, Jun Zhou1,2, Ren Gong1,2, Xiao Huang1,2, Meghana Pansuria1,2, Anthony Virtue1,2, Xinyuan Li1,2, Hong Wang1,2,3, Xiao-Feng Yang1,2

1Department of Pharmacology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, 19140, 2Cardiovascular Research Center, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, 1914, 3Thrombosis Research Center of Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, 19140


1. Abstract
2. Introduction
3. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs)
3.1. Introduction of EPCs
3.2. EPCs from peripheral blood and bone marrow
3.2.1. Isolation, characterization, and quantification of EPCs
3.3. Vascular wall EPCs
3.4. Monocyte-/macrophage-derived EPCs
3.5. Roles of EPCs in vascular biology
3.5.1. EPCs and neovascularization
3.5.2. EPCs and endothelial regeneration
3.6. EPC interaction with other cells
4. EPCs and atherosclerosis
4.1. The earliest changes of atherosclerosis-EC dysfunction
4.2. EPC levels -independent predictive biomarker
4.3. Endothelial progenitor cells repair injured vessels and prevent atherosclerosis
4.4. Transfer of progenitor cells is not always beneficial
4.5. The mechanisms underlying EPC dysfunction and reduction in atherosclerosis
5. EPCs and inflammation
5.1. Inflammation, EPC mobilization and EPC recruitment
5.2. Additional molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of inflammation on EPCs mobilization
6. Conclusion and future directions
7. Acknowledgements
8. References


Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are involved in the maintenance of endothelial homoeostasis and in the process of new vessel formation. Experimental and clinical studies have shown that atherosclerosis is associated with reduced numbers and dysfunction of EPCs; and that medications alone are able to partially reverse the impairment of EPCs in patients with atherosclerosis. Therefore, novel EPC-based therapies may provide enhancement in restoring EPCs' population and improvement of vascular function. Here, for a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying EPC impairment in atherosclerosis, we provide a comprehensive overview on EPC characteristics, phenotypes, and the signaling pathways underlying EPC impairment in atherosclerosis.