Endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) transplantation has beneficial effects for therapeutic neovascularization; however, only a small proportion of injected cells home to the lesion and incorporate into the neocapillaries. Consequently, this type of cell therapy requires substantial improvement to be of clinical value. Erythropoietin-producing human hepatocellular carcinoma (Eph) receptors and their ephrin ligands are key regulators of vascular development. We postulated that activation of the EphB4/ephrin-B2 system may enhance EPC proangiogenic potential. In this report, we demonstrate in a nude mouse model of hind limb ischemia that EphB4 activation with an ephrin-B2–Fc chimeric protein increases the angiogenic potential of human EPCs. This effect was abolished by EphB4 siRNA, confirming that it is mediated by EphB4. EphB4 activation enhanced P selectin glycoprotein ligand-1 (PSGL-1) expression and EPC adhesion. Inhibition of PSGL-1 by siRNA reversed the proangiogenic and adhesive effects of EphB4 activation. Moreover, neutralizing antibodies to E selectin and P selectin blocked ephrin-B2–Fc–stimulated EPC adhesion properties. Thus, activation of EphB4 enhances EPC proangiogenic capacity through induction of PSGL-1 expression and adhesion to E selectin and P selectin. Therefore, activation of EphB4 is an innovative and potentially valuable therapeutic strategy for improving the recruitment of EPCs to sites of neovascularization and thereby the efficiency of cell-based proangiogenic therapy.


Philippe Foubert, Jean-Sébastien Silvestre, Boussad Souttou, Véronique Barateau, Coralie Martin, Téni G. Ebrahimian, Carole Leré-Déan, Jean Olivier Contreres, Eric Sulpice, Bernard I. Levy, Jean Plouët, Gérard Tobelem, Sophie Le Ricousse-Roussanne


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