Background: Endothelial Progenitor Cells (EPCs) have been suggested to be a therapeutic
option in Acute Ischemic Stroke (AIS). Statins modulate endothelial function and preserve
blood flow to tissue exposed to an ischemic insult. We tested the hypothesis that statins therapy
might augment circulating EPCs in patients with AIS.
Methods: Demographic data, classical vascular risk factors, treatment and National Institutes of
Health Stroke Scale data were prospectively collected from 43 consecutive AIS patients (group I),
comprising – 30 treated with statins (group Statin(+)) and 13 untreated (group Statin (-)). Risk factor
controls (group II) included 22 subjects matched by age, gender, and traditional vascular risk
factors. EPCs were measured by flow cytometry – and the populations of circulating stem cells
(CD133+), early EPCs (CD133+/VEGFR2+) and ECs CD34/CD133/VEGFR2+ cells were analyzed.
Results: Patients ages ranged from 54 to 92 years (mean age 75.2 ± 11.3 years). The number of
CD34/CD133/VEGF-R2+ cells was significantly lower in group I than II (p<0.05). In group
Statin(+) neurological deficit on the 1st, 3rd and 7th day was significantly lower in comparison
Statin(-) (p<0.05). We observed significantly more frequent “improvement> 50% or complete recovery”
and less frequent death in the statin-treated group. The number of early EPCs and ECs
was significantly higher in the treated group on the day 3rd (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Statins treatment is likely to have a positive effect on spontaneous CD133+/
VEGFR2+ and CD34/CD133/VEGFR2+ cell mobilization triggered by a stroke.