Heart 95:2003-2008 doi:10.1136/hrt.2008.163162
  • Original article
  • Interventional cardiology

Dissociation of phenotypic and functional endothelial progenitor cells in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention

  1. N L Mills1,
  2. O Tura2,
  3. G J Padfield1,
  4. C Millar3,
  5. N N Lang1,
  6. D Stirling3,
  7. C Ludlam3,
  8. M L Turner2,
  9. G R Barclay2,
  10. D E Newby1
  1. 1
    Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Edinburgh University, UK
  2. 2
    Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Edinburgh University, UK
  3. 3
    Department of Haematology, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nicholas L Mills, Centre for Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh, Chancellor’s Building, Edinburgh, EH16 4SU, UK; nick.mills{at}
  • Accepted 21 April 2009
  • Published Online First 28 May 2009


Objectives: Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are circulating mononuclear cells with the capacity to mature into endothelial cells and contribute to vascular repair. We assessed the effect of local vascular injury during percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) on circulating EPCs in patients with coronary artery disease.

Design and setting: Prospective case-control study in a university teaching hospital.

Patients: 54 patients undergoing elective coronary angiography.

Interventions and main outcome measures: EPCs were quantified by flow cytometry (CD34+KDR+ phenotype) complemented by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and the colony forming unit (CFU-EC) functional assay, before and during the first 24 hours after diagnostic angiography (n = 27) or PCI (n = 27).

Results: Coronary intervention, but not diagnostic angiography, resulted in an increase in blood neutrophil count (p<0.001) and C-reactive protein concentrations (p = 0.001) in the absence of significant myocardial necrosis. Twenty-four hours after PCI, CFU-ECs increased threefold (median [IQR], 4.4 [1.3–13.8] vs 16.0 [2.1–35.0], p = 0.01), although circulating CD34+KDR+ cells (0.019% (SEM 0.004%) vs 0.016% (0.003%) of leucocytes, p = 0.62) and leucocyte CD34 mRNA (relative quantity 2.3 (0.5) vs 2.1 (0.4), p = 0.21) did not. There was no correlation between CFU-ECs and CD34+KDR+ cells.

Conclusions: Local vascular injury following PCI results in a systemic inflammatory response and increases functional CFU-ECs. This increase was not associated with an early mobilisation of CD34+KDR+ cells, suggesting these cells are not the primary source of EPCs involved in the immediate response to vascular injury.


  • See Editorial, p 1971

  • ▸ Additional data supplement is published online only at

  • NLM and OT contributed equally to first authorship.

  • Funding Michael Davies British Cardiovascular Society Research Fellowship (NM); British Heart Foundation Project Grant (PG/07/017/22405); National Health Service Research and Development Fund (SPG2005/27).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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