Mobilization of endothelial progenitor cells has been suggested to contribute to neo-vascularization of ischemic organs. Aim of this study was to investigate whether the combination of granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) and granulocyte-macrophage (GM)-CSF may influence the expansion of circulating KDR+ cells in patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). KDR+ cells significantly increased in peripheral blood of AMI patients treated with G-CSF and GM-CSF compared to untreated patients. This KDR+ cells population was CD14+ but not CD34+ or CD133+. CD14+/KDR+ cells were also obtained in vitro by culturing mononuclear cells from healthy donors in a Rotary Cell Culture System in the presence of G-CSF + GM-CSF, but not of the individual growth factors. CD14+/KDR+ cells, obtained from patients or from in vitro culture, co-expressed hematopoietic (CD45, CD14) and endothelial markers (CD31, CD105, and VE-cadherin). CD14+/KDR+, but not CD14+/KDR- cells, stimulated the organization of human microvascular endothelial cells into capillary-like structures on Matrigel both in vitro and in vivo. The combination of G-CSF and GM-CSF induced a CD14+/KDR+ cell population with potential pro-angiogenic properties.
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