Endothelial progenitor cells in vascular health: focus on lifestyle
van Craenenbroeck, Emeline M.
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
New York, N.Y.
Microvascular research. - New York, N.Y.
, p. 184-192
University of Antwerp
Endothelial dysfunction, which is considered the functional equivalent of a disrupted balance between endothelial injury and repair, precedes overt atherosclerosis by many years. Although this phenomenon is part of the normal aging process, prevention of early and progressive endothelial dysfunction has become an important therapeutic target. Evidence has accumulated to show that endothelial progenitor cells (EPC), contribute substantially to preservation of a structurally and functionally intact endothelium. There has been considerable progress in our understanding of the various cell types that were in the past all covered by the term EPC. EPC home to sites of endothelial injury and ischemia, where they proliferate, differentiate and integrate into the endothelial layer or exert a paracrine function by producing vascular growth factors. Although more emphasis has been put on the pharmacological approach of endothelial dysfunction, the effect of a healthy lifestyle, via mobilization and functional improvement of EPC, is increasingly recognized. This review will focus on successful lifestyle interventions that aim to maintain vascular health through beneficial actions on cell populations with vasculogenic potential (EPC). The role of physical activity and dietary recommendations, which are considered essential elements of a healthy lifestyle, will be particularly emphasized. A thorough understanding of the physiology of endothelial benefits, derived from such interventions, may help to implement these measures on top of classical drug therapy, but also provides a solid basis for primary prevention. The effects of additional elements of a comprehensive lifestyle advice, such as smoking cessation, weight and stress reduction, also comprise a modulation of EPC function and circulating numbers and are therefore included in this review as well.