Endothelial progenitor cells in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema

Margaret F. Doyle, Russell P. Tracy, Megha A. Parikh, Eric A. Hoffman, Daichi Shimbo, John H.M. Austin, Benjamin M. Smith, Katja Hueper, Jens Vogel-Claussen, Joao Lima, Antoinette Gomes, Karol Watson, Steven Kawut, R. Graham Barr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endothelial injury is implicated in the pathogenesis of COPD and emphysema; however the role of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), a marker of endothelial cell repair, and circulating endothelial cells (CECs), a marker of endothelial cell injury, in COPD and its subphenotypes is unresolved. We hypothesized that endothelial progenitor cell populations would be decreased in COPD and emphysema and that circulating endothelial cells would be increased. Associations with other subphenotypes were examined. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis COPD Study recruited smokers with COPD and controls age 50±79 years without clinical cardiovascular disease. Endothelial progenitor cell populations (CD34+KDR+ and CD34+KDR +CD133+ cells) and circulating endothelial cells (CD45dimCD31+CD146+CD133-) were measured by flow cytometry. COPD was defined by standard spirometric criteria. Emphysema was assessed qualitatively and quantitatively on CT. Full pulmonary function testing and expiratory CTs were measured in a subset. Among 257 participants, both endothelial progenitor cell populations, and particularly CD34+KDR+ endothelial progenitor cells, were reduced in COPD. The CD34+KDR+CD133+ endothelial progenitor cells were associated inversely with emphysema extent. Both endothelial progenitor cell populations were associated inversely with extent of panlobular emphysema and positively with diffusing capacity. Circulating endothelial cells were not significantly altered in COPD but were inversely associated with pulmonary microvascular blood flow on MRI. There was no consistent association of endothelial progenitor cells or circulating endothelial cells with measures of gas trapping. These data provide evidence that endothelial repair is impaired in COPD and suggest that this pathological process is specific to emphysema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0173446
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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