Human endothelial stem/progenitor cells, angiogenic factors and vascular repair.
Watt SM., Athanassopoulos A., Harris AL., Tsaknakis G.
Neovascularization or new blood vessel formation is of utmost importance not only for tissue and organ development and for tissue repair and regeneration, but also for pathological processes, such as tumour development. Despite this, the endothelial lineage, its origin, and the regulation of endothelial development and function either intrinsically from stem cells or extrinsically by proangiogenic supporting cells and other elements within local and specific microenvironmental niches are still not fully understood. There can be no doubt that for most tissues and organs, revascularization represents the holy grail for tissue repair, with autologous endothelial stem/progenitor cells, their proangiogenic counterparts and the products of these cells all being attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. Historically, a great deal of controversy has surrounded the identification and origin of cells and factors that contribute to revascularization, the use of such cells or their products as biomarkers to predict and monitor tissue damage and repair or tumour progression and therapeutic responses, and indeed their efficacy in revascularizing and repairing damaged tissues. Here, we will review the role of endothelial progenitor cells and of supporting proangiogenic cells and their products, principally in humans, as diagnostic and therapeutic agents for wound repair and tissue regeneration.