Identification of the initial molecular changes in response to circulating angiogenic cells-mediated therapy in critical limb ischemia

Lucia Beltran-Camacho, Margarita Jimenez-Palomares, Marta Rojas-Torres, Ismael Sanchez-Gomar, Antonio Rosal-Vela, Sara Eslava-Alcon, M. Carmen Perez-Segura, Ana Serrano, Borja Antequera-González, Jose Angel Alonso-Piñero, Almudena González-Rovira, M. Jesús Extremera-García, Manuel Rodriguez-Piñero, Rafael Moreno-Luna, Martin Røssel Larsen, M. Carmen Durán-Ruiz*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Critical limb ischemia (CLI) constitutes the most aggressive form of peripheral arterial occlusive disease, characterized by the blockade of arteries supplying blood to the lower extremities, significantly diminishing oxygen and nutrient supply. CLI patients usually undergo amputation of fingers, feet, or extremities, with a high risk of mortality due to associated comorbidities. Circulating angiogenic cells (CACs), also known as early endothelial progenitor cells, constitute promising candidates for cell therapy in CLI due to their assigned vascular regenerative properties. Preclinical and clinical assays with CACs have shown promising results. A better understanding of how these cells participate in vascular regeneration would significantly help to potentiate their role in revascularization. Herein, we analyzed the initial molecular mechanisms triggered by human CACs after being administered to a murine model of CLI, in order to understand how these cells promote angiogenesis within the ischemic tissues. Methods: Balb-c nude mice (n:24) were distributed in four different groups: healthy controls (C, n:4), shams (SH, n:4), and ischemic mice (after femoral ligation) that received either 50 μl physiological serum (SC, n:8) or 5 × 105 human CACs (SE, n:8). Ischemic mice were sacrificed on days 2 and 4 (n:4/group/day), and immunohistochemistry assays and qPCR amplification of Alu-human-specific sequences were carried out for cell detection and vascular density measurements. Additionally, a label-free MS-based quantitative approach was performed to identify protein changes related. Results: Administration of CACs induced in the ischemic tissues an increase in the number of blood vessels as well as the diameter size compared to ischemic, non-treated mice, although the number of CACs decreased within time. The initial protein changes taking place in response to ischemia and more importantly, right after administration of CACs to CLI mice, are shown. Conclusions: Our results indicate that CACs migrate to the injured area; moreover, they trigger protein changes correlated with cell migration, cell death, angiogenesis, and arteriogenesis in the host. These changes indicate that CACs promote from the beginning an increase in the number of vessels as well as the development of an appropriate vascular network. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number106
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6. Mar 2020


  • Angiogenesis
  • Arteriogenesis
  • Circulating angiogenic cells
  • Critical limb ischemia
  • Proteomics

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    Beltran-Camacho, L., Jimenez-Palomares, M., Rojas-Torres, M., Sanchez-Gomar, I., Rosal-Vela, A., Eslava-Alcon, S., Perez-Segura, M. C., Serrano, A., Antequera-González, B., Alonso-Piñero, J. A., González-Rovira, A., Extremera-García, M. J., Rodriguez-Piñero, M., Moreno-Luna, R., Larsen, M. R., & Durán-Ruiz, M. C. (2020). Identification of the initial molecular changes in response to circulating angiogenic cells-mediated therapy in critical limb ischemia. Stem Cell Research and Therapy, 11(1), [106].