Adult bone marrow-derived hemangioblasts, endothelial cell progenitors, and EPCs

Curr Top Dev Biol. 2004;64:141-80. doi: 10.1016/S0070-2153(04)64007-5.


Long before their existence was proven, work with blood islands pointed to the existence of hemangioblasts in the embryo, and it was widely accepted that such cells existed. In contrast, though evidence for adult hemangioblasts appeared at least as early as 1932, until quite recently, it was commonly assumed that there were no adult hemangioblasts. Over the past decade, these views have changed, and it is now generally accepted that a subset of bone marrow cells or their progeny can and do function as adult hemangioblasts. This chapter will examine the basic biology of bone marrow-derived hemangioblasts and endothelial cell progenitors (angioblasts) and the relationship of these adult cells to their embryonic counterparts. Efforts to define the endothelial cell progenitor phenotype will also be discussed, though to date, there is no consensus on the definitive adult phenotype, probably because there are multiple phenotypes and because the cells are plastic. Also examined are the putative roles of bone marrow-derived cells in vascular homeostasis and repair, including both their ability to differentiate and contribute directly to vascular repair, as well as to promote vascular growth by secreting pro-angiogenic factors. Finally, the use of bone marrow cells as therapeutic tools will be addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Cells* / cytology
  • Blood Cells* / physiology
  • Blood Vessels / anatomy & histology
  • Blood Vessels / physiology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / physiology*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ischemia
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor / metabolism


  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor