John Libbey Eurotext



Circulating endothelial cells: a novel biomarker of the equilibrium between endothelial injury and repair Volume 11, issue 4, Juillet-Août 2005


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Laboratoire d’hématologie, hôpital de la Conception, Marseille, Laboratoire d’hématologie et immunologie, Unité Inserm U608, UFR de Pharmacie, 27 bd Jean-Moulin, 13385 Marseille Cedex 5
  • Key words: CEC, CD146, vascular disorders, endothelial injury, endothelial repair
  • Page(s) : 241-8
  • Published in: 2005

The studies performed for the last twenty years have unequivocally demonstrated that the damaging of endothelial integrity was responsible for numerous vascular disorders. Recent studies have evidenced new subpopulations of endothelial cells in the blood. Among these, circulating endothelial cells (CEC) are mature endothelial cells often defined by the expression of the CD146 antigen. They are rarely found in the blood of healthy subjects but raise in various clinical settings associated to vascular injury (including inflammatory, immune, infectious, neoplastic and cardiovascular diseases). Another population consists of endothelial progenitor cells (PEC), defined by the co-expression of endothelial and immaturity markers and the ability to form colonies in vitro. The increased number of CEC correlates with other markers of vascular disease and provides useful informations to monitor disease activity and/or treatment efficacy. Moreover, since CEC are considered as representative of the in situ endothelium, the study of their phenotype and function opens new perspectives regarding their precise definition, cell biology and origin. Although there is a growing evidence that CEC can be considered as an indicator of endothelial injury, the absence of an uniform method of quantification, especially between immuno-magnetic separation and flow cytometry is still a limitation. A consensual definition of the most appropriate technique is a key issue to address in order to validate CEC in large cohorts of patients. Moreover, beside CEC, the measurement of other endothelial markers such as microparticles or PEC may open new perspectives to study the equilibrium between lesion and regeneration of the endothelium.