Background: Circulating progenitor cells (CPCs) and endothelial progenitor
cells (EPCs) are immature cells involved in vascular repair and related to many aspects of
macro and microvascular disease.
Objective: We aimed to review studies reporting the prognostic role of CPCs/EPCs measurement
on development of cardiovascular disease and microangiopathy.
Methods and Results: We reviewed the English language literature for prospective observational
studies reporting the future development of cardiovascular disease or microangiopathy
in patients having a baseline determination of CPCs/EPCs. We retrieved 34
studied reporting on cardiovascular outcomes and 2 studies reporting on microvascular
outcomes. Overall, a reduced baseline level of CPCs/EPCs was associated with a significant
increased risk of cardiovascular events, all-cause death, and onset/progression of microangiopathy.
The most predictive phenotypes were CD34+ and CD34+CD133+. The
main limitation was related to the high heterogeneity among studies in terms of patient
characteristics and cell phenotypes.
Conclusion: The present review shows that a reduced level of circulating progenitor cells
is a risk factor for the development of future cardiovascular events and death. In addition,
low CPCs/EPCs levels predict the onset or worsening of microalbuminuria and retinopathy
in diabetic patients.