The role of endothelial cells and their progenitors in intimal hyperplasia
AbstractIntimal hyperplasia leading to restenosis is the major process that limits the success of cardiovascular intervention. The emergence of vascular progenitor cells and, in particular, endothelial progenitor cells has led to great interest in their potential therapeutic value in preventing intimal hyperplasia. We review the mechanism of intimal hyperplasia and highlight the important attenuating role played by a functional endothelium. The role of endothelial progenitor cells in maintaining endothelial function is reviewed and we describe how reduced progenitor cell number and function and reduced endothelial function lead to an increased risk of intimal hyperplasia. We review other potential sources of endothelial cells, including monocytes, mesenchymal stem cells and tissue resident stem cells. Endothelial progenitor cells have been used in clinical trials to reduce the risk of restenosis with varied success. Progenitor cells have huge therapeutic potential to prevent intimal hyperplasia but a more detailed understanding of vascular progenitor cell biology is necessary before further clinical trials are commenced.