AIMS: Circulating Angiogenic Cells (CACs) promote revascularization of ischemic tissues although their underlying mechanism of action and the consequences of delivering varying numbers of these cells for therapy remain unknown. This study investigates molecular mechanisms underpinning CAC modulation of blood vessel formation.
METHODS & RESULTS: CACs at low (2x10(5)cells/ml) and mid (2x10(6)cells/ml) cellular densities significantly enhanced endothelial cell (EC) tube formation in vitro, while high density CACs (2x10(7)cells/ml) significantly inhibited this angiogenic process. In vivo, Matrigel-based angiogenesis assays confirmed mid-density CACs as pro-angiogenic and high density CACs as anti-angiogenic. Secretome characterization of CAC-EC conditioned media identified pentraxin 3 (PTX3) as only present in the high density CAC-EC co-culture. Recombinant PTX3 inhibited endothelial tube formation in vitro and in vivo Importantly, our data revealed that the anti-angiogenic effect observed in high density CAC-EC co-cultures was significantly abrogated when PTX3 bioactivity was blocked using neutralizing antibodies or PTX3 siRNA in endothelial cells. We show evidence for an endothelial source of PTX3, triggered by exposure to high density CACs. In addition, we confirmed that PTX3 inhibits FGF2-mediated angiogenesis, and that the PTX3 N-terminus, containing the FGF-binding site, is responsible for such anti-angiogenic effects.
CONCLUSIONS: Endothelium, when exposed to high density CACs, releases PTX3 which markedly impairs the vascular regenerative response in an autocrine manner. Therefore, CAC density and accompanying release of angiocrine PTX3 are critical considerations when using these cells as a cell therapy for ischemic disease.