Therapeutic potential of endothelial progenitor cells in cardiovascular diseases

Victor J. Dzau, Massimiliano Gnecchi, Alok S. Pachori, Fulvio Morello, Luis G. Melo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endothelial dysfunction and cell loss are prominent features in cardiovascular disease. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) originating from the bone marrow play a significant role in neovascularization of ischemic tissues and in re-endothelialization of injured blood vessels. Several studies have shown the therapeutic potential of EPC transplantation in rescue of tissue ischemia and in repair of blood vessels and bioengineering of prosthetic grafts. Recent small-scale trials have provided preliminary evidence of feasibility, safety, and efficacy in patients with myocardial and critical limb ischemia. However, several studies have shown that age and cardiovascular disease risk factors reduce the availability of circulating EPCs (CEPCs) and impair their function to varying degrees. In addition, the relative scarcity of CEPCs limits the ability to expand these cells in sufficient numbers for some therapeutic applications. Priority must be given to the development of strategies to enhance the number and improve the function of CEPCs. Furthermore, alternative sources of EPC such as chord blood need to be explored. Strategies for improvement of cell adhesion, survival, and prevention of cell senescence are also essential to ensure therapeutic viability. Genetic engineering of EPCs may be a useful approach to developing these cells into efficient therapeutic tools. In the clinical arena there is pressing need to standardize the protocols for isolation, culture, and therapeutic application of EPC. Large-scale multi-center randomized trials are required to evaluate the long-term safety and efficacy of EPC therapy. Despite these hurdles, the outlook for EPC-based therapy for cardiovascular disease is promising.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-18
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


  • Coronary artery disease
  • Endothelial progenitor cells
  • Genetic engineering
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Neovascularization
  • Vascular repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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