Objective: To investigate the feasibility of intracoronary application of endothelial progenitor cells and the subsequent distribution within the heart.
Methods: Endothelial progenitors cells (EPCs) cultured from rat bone marrow were identified by double-positive staining with Dil-Ac-LDL and BS1-lectin. Twenty-four hours before cell transplantation, EPCs were labeled with 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU). Cells (5 x 10(5) in 250-microl medium) were injected into healthy rats, either as intracoronary application (n=11) or as intramyocardial injection (n = 6). At 15 min or 3 days posttransplantation, hearts as well as other organs (lung, liver, kidney, and spleen) were collected and processed for subsequent BrdU immunohistochemistry. The number of BrdU-positive cells per tissue area was counted.
Results: Compared to intramyocardial injection, intracoronary administration resulted in more than twice as much positive cells in the heart (P < .05), with no local differences within the heart. Whereas after 15 min, EPCs were equally distributed in all examined organs (except for the spleen), cells that were still present after 3 days, approximately 10%, were selectively restricted to the heart.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that the intracoronary application provides a promising technique for EPC transplantation in the rat heart.