Current concepts on endothelial stem cells definition, location, and markers

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Ischemic vascular disease is a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide, and regeneration of blood vessels in perfusion-deficient tissues is a worthwhile therapeutic goal. The idea of delivering endothelial stem/progenitor cells to repair damaged vasculature, reperfuse hypoxic tissue, prevent cell death, and consequently diminish tissue inflammation and fibrosis; has a strong scientific basis and clinical value. Various labs have proposed endothelial stem/progenitor cell candidates. This has created confusion as there are profound differences between these cell definitions based on isolation methodology, characterization, and reparative biology. Here, a stricter definition based on stem cell biology principles is proposed. Although preclinical studies have often been promising, results from clinical trials have been highly contradictory, and served to highlight multiple challenges associated with disappointing therapeutic benefit. This manuscript reviews recent accomplishments in the field and discusses current difficulties when developing endothelial stem cell therapies. Emerging evidence that disputes the classic view of the bone marrow as the source for these cells and supports the vascular wall as the niche for these tissue-resident endothelial stem cells is considered. In addition, novel markers to identify endothelial stem cells, including CD157, EPCR, and CD31low VEGFR2low IL33+ Sox9+, are described.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStem Cells Transl Med
Publication statusAccepted - 25 Mar 2021

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