Nonbone marrow-derived circulating progenitor cells contribute to postnatal neovascularization following tissue ischemia

Alexandra Aicher, Markus Rentsch, Ken Ichiro Sasaki, Joachim W. Ellwart, Fred Fändrich, Reiner Siebert, John P. Cooke, Stefanie Dimmeler, Christopher Heeschen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

213 Scopus citations


Circulating progenitor cells home to sites of postnatal neovascularization and differentiate into endothelial cells but questions remain regarding the source of these cells. Indeed, a recent study suggests that nonbone marrow-derived cells may be even more important than bone marrow-derived cells in the setting of transplant arteriosclerosis. Thus, we aimed to thoroughly investigate the contribution of nonbone marrow-derived progenitor cells for neovascularization. We exclusively identified nonbone marrow-derived progenitor cells by combining a parabiosis model with reverse bone marrow transplantation followed by hindlimb ischemia. In this model, nonbone marrow-derived circulating progenitor cells attributed for 74±13% of the circulating progenitor cells that incorporated into the ischemic hindlimb. Increasing evidence suggests that organs such as small intestine and liver contain a considerable number of tissue resident progenitor cells and, thus, represent putative sources for nonbone marrow-derived progenitors. To track organ-derived progenitors, we transplanted sex-mismatched small intestine or liver, respectively, into rats followed by induction of hindlimb ischemia. These experiments show that organ-derived progenitor cells are contributing to postnatal vasculogenesis (intestine: 4.7±3.7%; liver: 6.3±2.2%). Based on the subsequent observation that liver-derived nonhematopoietic c-kitCD45 progenitors are mobilized on induction of hindlimb ischemia, we prospectively isolated and intravenously infused these progenitors from murine livers. The isolated cells demonstrated a marked capacity for enhancing neovascularization and restoring blood flow to the ischemic hindlimb (no cells: 26.4±4.8% of normal blood flow; c-kitCD45 cells: 67.0±8.0% of normal flow; P<0.01). In conclusion, we find that nonbone marrow-derived c-kitCD45 progenitors contribute to postnatal neovascularization to an extent that is similar to that of bone marrow-derived progenitor cells. Intestine and liver represent a rich source for mobilized tissue-residing progenitor cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-589
Number of pages9
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Angiogenesis
  • Hindlimb ischemia
  • Parabiosis
  • Progenitor cells
  • Stem cells
  • Vasculogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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