Aims. To investigate the interrelationships between endothelial progenitor cells (EPC), peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and atherosclerotic risk factors, as only limited data is available regarding the EPC in patients with PAD. Methods. We studied the number of EPCs by different methods in a carefully selected group of 45 patients with PAD along with 24 healthy subjects (HS). Results. In patients with PAD, by utilizing the dual binding method, the number of EPC was significantly increased compared to HS (M ± SD, PAD, 73 ± 33, HS, 52 ± 20, EPCs/high power field, p<0.001). On the contrary, both CD34+ cell count and CD133+ cell count were significantly decreased compared to HS. Colony forming units were significantly increased in PAD compared to HS (median, 25th and 75th percentiles, PAD: 7, 1, 9; HS: 1, 1, 4 CFU/well, respectively, Mann-Whitney, P=0.006). Conclusion(s). In patients with PAD the number and proliferative activity of circulating EPCs are increased with respect to HS even though EPC count by FACS analysis provided different results and this may explain the discrepancy in data collected using different methods. The regulation of the number and biological activity of EPCs in PAD remains unclear.
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