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      Endothelium and Its Alterations in Cardiovascular Diseases: Life Style Intervention


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          The endothelium, which forms the inner cellular lining of blood vessels and lymphatics, is a highly metabolically active organ that is involved in many physiopathological processes, including the control of vasomotor tone, barrier function, leukocyte adhesion, and trafficking and inflammation. In this review, we summarized and described the following: (i) endothelial cell function in physiological conditions and (ii) endothelial cell activation and dysfunction in the main cardiovascular diseases (such as atherosclerosis, and hypertension) and to diabetes, cigarette smoking, and aging physiological process. Finally, we presented the currently available evidence that supports the beneficial effects of physical activity and various dietary compounds on endothelial functions.

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          Number and migratory activity of circulating endothelial progenitor cells inversely correlate with risk factors for coronary artery disease.

          Recent studies provide increasing evidence that postnatal neovascularization involves bone marrow-derived circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). The regulation of EPCs in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) is unclear at present. Therefore, we determined the number and functional activity of EPCs in 45 patients with CAD and 15 healthy volunteers. The numbers of isolated EPCs and circulating CD34/kinase insert domain receptor (KDR)-positive precursor cells were significantly reduced in patients with CAD by approximately 40% and 48%, respectively. To determine the influence of atherosclerotic risk factors, a risk factor score including age, sex, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, positive family history of CAD, and LDL cholesterol levels was used. The number of risk factors was significantly correlated with a reduction of EPC levels (R=-0.394, P=0.002) and CD34-/KDR-positive cells (R=-0.537, P<0.001). Analysis of the individual risk factors demonstrated that smokers had significantly reduced levels of EPCs (P<0.001) and CD34-/KDR-positive cells (P=0.003). Moreover, a positive family history of CAD was associated with reduced CD34-/KDR-positive cells (P=0.011). Most importantly, EPCs isolated from patients with CAD also revealed an impaired migratory response, which was inversely correlated with the number of risk factors (R=-0.484, P=0.002). By multivariate analysis, hypertension was identified as a major independent predictor for impaired EPC migration (P=0.043). The present study demonstrates that patients with CAD revealed reduced levels and functional impairment of EPCs, which correlated with risk factors for CAD. Given the important role of EPCs for neovascularization of ischemic tissue, the decrease of EPC numbers and activity may contribute to impaired vascularization in patients with CAD. The full text of this article is available at http://www.circresaha.org.
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            Endothelial cell-to-cell junctions: molecular organization and role in vascular homeostasis.

            Intercellular junctions mediate adhesion and communication between adjoining endothelial and epithelial cells. In the endothelium, junctional complexes comprise tight junctions, adherens junctions, and gap junctions. The expression and organization of these complexes depend on the type of vessels and the permeability requirements of perfused organs. Gap junctions are communication structures, which allow the passage of small molecular weight solutes between neighboring cells. Tight junctions serve the major functional purpose of providing a "barrier" and a "fence" within the membrane, by regulating paracellular permeability and maintaining cell polarity. Adherens junctions play an important role in contact inhibition of endothelial cell growth, paracellular permeability to circulating leukocytes and solutes. In addition, they are required for a correct organization of new vessels in angiogenesis. Extensive research in the past decade has identified several molecular components of the tight and adherens junctions, including integral membrane and intracellular proteins. These proteins interact both among themselves and with other molecules. Here, we review the individual molecules of junctions and their complex network of interactions. We also emphasize how the molecular architectures and interactions may represent a mechanistic basis for the function and regulation of junctions, focusing on junction assembly and permeability regulation. Finally, we analyze in vivo studies and highlight information that specifically relates to the role of junctions in vascular endothelial cells.
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              Phenotypic heterogeneity of the endothelium: II. Representative vascular beds.

              Endothelial cells, which form the inner cellular lining of blood vessels and lymphatics, display remarkable heterogeneity in structure and function. This is the second of a 2-part review on the phenotypic heterogeneity of blood vessel endothelial cells. The first part discusses the scope, the underlying mechanisms, and the diagnostic and therapeutic implications of phenotypic heterogeneity. Here, these principles are applied to an understanding of organ-specific phenotypes in representative vascular beds including arteries and veins, heart, lung, liver, and kidney. The goal is to underscore the importance of site-specific properties of the endothelium in mediating homeostasis and focal vascular pathology, while at the same time emphasizing the value of approaching the endothelium as an integrated system.

                Author and article information

                Biomed Res Int
                Biomed Res Int
                BioMed Research International
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                26 February 2014
                : 2014
                : 801896
                1Section of Anatomy and Physiopathology, Department of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy
                2Department of Medical and Surgical Specialties, Radiological Sciences and Public Health, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Iveta Bernatova

                Author information
                Copyright © 2014 Gaia Favero et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 15 November 2013
                : 11 January 2014
                Review Article


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