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      The Effects of External Counter Pulsation Therapy on Circulating Endothelial Progenitor Cells in Patients with Angina Pectoris

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          Objectives: External counter pulsation therapy (ECPT) offers symptomatic relief and improves ischemia in patients with refractory angina pectoris. We aimed to determine the effects of ECPT on circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). Methods: We prospectively studied 25 patients with angina pectoris treated with ECPT (n = 15) or receiving standard care (n = 10). The number of EPCs positive for CD34 and kinase insert domain receptor (KDR) was determined by flow cytometry and the number of colony-forming units (CFUs) was assessed in a 7-day culture, before ECPT and after 9 weeks. Results: ECPT improved anginal score from a median of 3.0 to 2.0 (p < 0.001). Concomitantly, ECPT increased EPC number from a median of 10.2 to 17.8/10<sup>5</sup> mononuclear cells (p < 0.05), and CFUs from 3.5 to 11.0 (p = 0.01). Flow-mediated dilatation was improved by ECPT from 7.4 to 12.2% (p < 0.001) and correlated with EPC-CFUs (r = 0.461, p = 0.027). The levels of asymmetric dimethylarginine were reduced by ECPT from 0.70 to 0.60 µmol/l (p < 0.01). In contrast, the same parameters did not change in the control group, before and after follow-up. Conclusions: The present pilot study shows, for the first time, that ECPT is associated with increased number and colony-forming capacity of circulating EPCs.

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          Most cited references 23

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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
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            VEGF contributes to postnatal neovascularization by mobilizing bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells.

            Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been shown to promote neovascularization in animal models and, more recently, in human subjects. This feature has been assumed to result exclusively from its direct effects on fully differentiated endothelial cells, i.e. angiogenesis. Given its regulatory role in both angiogenesis and vasculogenesis during fetal development, we investigated the hypothesis that VEGF may modulate endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) kinetics for postnatal neovascularization. Indeed, we observed an increase in circulating EPCs following VEGF administration in vivo. VEGF-induced mobilization of bone marrow-derived EPCs resulted in increased differentiated EPCs in vitro and augmented corneal neovascularization in vivo. These findings thus establish a novel role for VEGF in postnatal neovascularization which complements its known impact on angiogenesis.
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              Reduced number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells predicts future cardiovascular events: proof of concept for the clinical importance of endogenous vascular repair.

              The maintenance of endothelial integrity plays a critical role in preventing atherosclerotic disease progression. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) were experimentally shown to incorporate into sites of neovascularization and home to sites of endothelial denudation. Circulating EPCs may thus provide an endogenous repair mechanism to counteract ongoing risk factor-induced endothelial injury and to replace dysfunctional endothelium. In 120 individuals (43 control subjects, 44 patients with stable coronary artery disease, and 33 patients with acute coronary syndromes), circulating EPCs were defined by the surface markers CD34+KDR+ and analyzed by flow cytometry. Cardiovascular events (cardiovascular death, unstable angina, myocardial infarction, PTCA, CABG, or ischemic stroke) served as outcome variables over a median follow-up period of 10 months. Patients suffering from cardiovascular events had significantly lower numbers of EPCs (P<0.05). Reduced numbers of EPCs were associated with a significantly higher incidence of cardiovascular events by Kaplan-Meier analysis (P=0.0009). By multivariate analysis, reduced EPC levels were a significant, independent predictor of poor prognosis, even after adjustment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors and disease activity (hazard ratio, 3.9; P<0.05). Reduced levels of circulating EPCs independently predict atherosclerotic disease progression, thus supporting an important role for endogenous vascular repair to modulate the clinical course of coronary artery disease.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                June 2008
                04 December 2007
                : 110
                : 3
                : 160-166
                aNeufeld Cardiac Research Institute, bHeart Institute, Tel-Aviv University, cDivision of Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation and dLaboratory Division, Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel
                111925 Cardiology 2008;110:160–166
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Figures: 3, Tables: 1, References: 28, Pages: 7
                Original Research


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