Author(s): Torsney E, Xu Q
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Abstract Homeostasis of the vessel wall is essential for maintaining its function, including blood pressure and patency of the lumen. In physiological conditions, the turnover rate of vascular cells, i.e. endothelial and smooth muscle cells, is low, but markedly increased in diseased situations, e.g. vascular injury after angioplasty. It is believed that mature vascular cells have an ability to proliferate to replace lost cells normally. On the other hand, recent evidence indicates stem/progenitor cells may participate in vascular repair and the formation of neointimal lesions in severely damaged vessels. It was found that all three layers of the vessels, the intima, media and adventitia, contain resident progenitor cells, including endothelial progenitor cells, mesenchymal stromal cells, Sca-1+ and CD34+ cells. Data also demonstrated that these resident progenitor cells could differentiate into a variety of cell types in response to different culture conditions. However, collective data were obtained mostly from in vitro culture assays and phenotypic marker studies. There are many unanswered questions concerning the mechanism of cell differentiation and the functional role of these cells in vascular repair and the pathogenesis of vascular disease. In the present review, we aim to summarize the data showing the presence of the resident progenitor cells, to highlight possible signal pathways orchestrating cell differentiation toward endothelial and smooth muscle cells, and to discuss the data limitations, challenges and controversial issues related to the role of progenitors. This article is part of a special issue entitled, "Cardiovascular Stem Cells Revisited". Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in J Mol Cell Cardiol
and referenced in Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy