Stem cells, vascular smooth muscle cells and atherosclerosis

A Margariti, L Zeng, Q Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into a variety of cells to replace dead cells or to repair tissue. Recently, accumulating evidence indicates that mechanical forces, cytokines and other factors can influence stem cell differentiation into vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs). In developmental process, SMCs originate from several sources, which show a great heterogenicity in different vessel walls. In adult vessels, SMCs display a less proliferative nature, but are altered in response to risk factors for atherosclerosis. Traditional view on SMC origins in atherosclerotic lesions is challenged by the recent findings that stem cells and smooth muscle progenitors contribute to the development of atherosclerotic lesions. Vascular progenitor cells circulating in human blood and the presence of adventitia in animals are recent discoveries, but the source of these cells is still unknown. The present review gives an update on the progress of stem cell and SMC research in atherosclerosis, and discusses possible mechanisms of stem/progenitor cell differentiation that contribute to the disease process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-85
Number of pages7
JournalHistology and histopathology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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