The endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are angiogenic cells having properties similar to those of embryonal angioblasts. The number and function of EPCs are affected by a variety of conditions, including cytokines and chemokines, which are pivotal inflammatory signaling molecules. The purpose of this paper is to review current knowledge about the role of these progenitor in different vascular diseases, emphasizing the important biological role played from the CXCR4-CXCL12 axis in the cellular trafficking. Indeed, as described in detail in this review, the CXCR4/CXCL12 interaction produces pleiotropic effects in stem cells and plays a pivotal role in several processes related to development, tissue regeneration and development/progression of malignancies.
Keywords: CXCR4-CXCL12 axis, endothelial progenitor cells, stem cells trafficking, vascular damage, inflammation
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