Duke University Medical Center researchers have uncovered a strong relationship between the severity of heart disease and the level of endothelial progenitor cells circulating in the bloodstream. This relationship, if confirmed by ongoing studies, could represent an important new diagnostic and therapeutic target for the treatment of coronary artery disease, they said.
Geoffrey Kunz, M.D.
These endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) are produced in the bone marrow, and one of their roles is to repair damage to the lining of blood vessels. Duke cardiologists believe that one cause of coronary artery disease is an increasing inability over time of these EPCs to keep up with the damage caused to the arterial lining, or endothelium.
"In our study we found that patients with multi-vessel disease had many fewer EPCs, which supports our hypothesis that these cells play an important role in protecting blood vessels," said cardiologist Geoffrey Kunz, M.D., of the Duke Clinical Research Institute. "If you dont have enough of the cells, the ongoing damage to the endothelium from traditional risk factors occurs faster than the bodys ability for repair."
Richard Merritt | dukemed news
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