Author(s): Asahara T, Kawamoto A
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Abstract In the past decade, researchers have defined committed stem or progenitor cells from various tissues, including bone marrow, peripheral blood, brain, liver, and reproductive organs, in both adult animals and humans. Whereas most cells in adult organs are composed of differentiated cells, which express a variety of specific phenotypic genes adapted to each organ's environment, quiescent stem or progenitor cells are maintained locally or in the systemic circulation and are activated by environmental stimuli for physiological and pathological tissue regeneration. Recently, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) were isolated from peripheral blood CD34, Flk-1, or AC133 antigen-positive cells, which are considered to include a hematopoietic stem cell population, and were shown to be incorporated into foci of neovascularization. This finding, that circulating EPCs may home to sites of neovascularization and differentiate into endothelial cells in situ, is consistent with "vasculogenesis," a critical paradigm for embryonic neovascularization, and suggests that vasculogenesis and angiogenesis may constitute complementary mechanisms for postnatal neovascularization. Previous reports demonstrating therapeutic potential of EPC transplantation in animal models of hindlimb and myocardial ischemia opened the way to the clinical application of cell therapy: the replacement of diseased or degenerating cell populations, tissues, and organs. In this review, we summarize biological features of EPCs and speculate on the utility of EPCs for vascular and general medicine.
This article was published in Am J Physiol Cell Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Bone Research