Common endothelial progenitor cell assays identify discrete endothelial progenitor cell populations

Thomas J. Povsic, Katherine L. Zavodni, Enrikas Vainorius, Jennifer F. Kherani, Pascal J. Goldschmidt-Clermont, Eric D. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Multiple measures of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have been described, but there has been limited study of the comparability of these assays. We sought to determine the reproducibility of and correlation between alternative EPC assay methodologies. Methods: We simultaneously assessed EPC numbers in 140 patients undergoing cardiac catheterization using the 2 most commonly used culture techniques: endothelial cell outgrowth and colony-forming unit (CFU). In the final 77 patients, EPCs were also identified on the basis of cell surface marker expression (CD133, CD34, and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 [VEGFR-2]) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity. Results: Endothelial progenitor cell enumeration based on fluorescence activated cell sorting was more precise than culture assays. There was limited correlation between EPC numbers determined using the 2 common culture-based assays; however, endothelial CFUs correlated with VEGFR-2 and CD34/VEGFR-2-expressing cells. Endothelial progenitor cells defined by expression of CD133, CD34, CD133/CD34, and ALDH activity correlated with each other, but not with VEGFR-2+ cells. Conclusions: Endothelial progenitor cells can be broadly classified into 2 classes: VEGFR-2-expressing cells, which give rise to endothelial CFUs, and CD133/CD34 or ALDHbr cells. These observations underscore the need for better assay standardization and a more precise definition of EPCs in cell therapy research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican heart journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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