Endothelial Progenitor Cells: Therapeutic Perspective for Ischemic Stroke

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Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which can be cultured in vitro from mononuclear cells in peripheral blood or bone marrow, express both hematopoietic stem cell and endothelial cell markers on their surface. They are believed to participate in endothelial repair and postnatal angiogenesis due to their abilities of differentiating into endothelial cells and secreting protective cytokines and growth factors. Mounting evidence suggests that circulating EPCs are reduced and dysfunctional in various diseases including hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. Therefore, EPCs have been documented to be a potential biomarker for vascular diseases and a hopeful candidate for regenerative medicine. Ischemic stroke as the major cause of disability and death still has limited therapeutics based on the approaches of vascular recanalization or neuronal protection. Emerging evidence indicates that transplantation of EPCs is beneficial for the recovery of ischemic cerebral injury. EPC-based therapy could open a new avenue for ischemic cerebrovascular disease. Currently, clinical trials for evaluating EPC transfusion in treating ischemic stroke are underway. In this review, we summarize the general conceptions and the characteristics of EPCs, and highlight the recent research developments on EPCs. More importantly, the rationale, perspectives and strategies for using them to treat ischemic stroke will be discussed.


The paper linked to in this record is the authors' accepted manuscript.