In the past decade, researchers have defined committed stem or progenitor cells from various tissues, including bone marrow, peripheral blood, brain, liver and reproductive organs, in both adult animals and humans. Recently, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) were isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells and were shown to be incorporated into foci of neovascularization. This finding that circulating EPCs may home into sites of neovascularization and differentiate into mature endothelial cells in situ is consistent with the concept of vasculogenesis and suggests that vasculogenesis and angiogenesis might constitute complementary mechanisms for postnatal neovascularization. Furthermore, experimental and clinical studies on ischemic cardiovascular diseases suggest a therapeutic potential for EPC transplantation. In this review, we summarize the biological features of EPCs and discuss their therapeutic potential for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
Keywords: Angiogenesis, neovascularization, stem cell, transplantation, vasculogenesis
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