Late release of circulating endothelial cells and endothelial progenitor cells after chemotherapy predicts response and survival in cancer patients

Neoplasia. 2010 Jan;12(1):87-94. doi: 10.1593/neo.91460.


We and others have previously demonstrated that the acute release of progenitor cells in response to chemotherapy actually reduces the efficacy of the chemotherapy. Here, we take these data further and investigate the clinical relevance of circulating endothelial (progenitor) cells (CE(P)Cs) and modulatory cytokines in patients after chemotherapy with relation to progression-free and overall survival (PFS/OS). Patients treated with various chemotherapeutics were included. Blood sampling was performed at baseline, 4 hours, and 7 and 21 days after chemotherapy. The mononuclear cell fraction was analyzed for CE(P)C by FACS analysis. Plasma was analyzed for cytokines by ELISA or Luminex technique. CE(P)Cs were correlated with response and PFS/OS using Cox proportional hazard regression analysis. We measured CE(P)Cs and cytokines in 71 patients. Only patients treated with paclitaxel showed an immediate increase in endothelial progenitor cell 4 hours after start of treatment. These immediate changes did not correlate with response or survival. After 7 and 21 days of chemotherapy, a large and consistent increase in CE(P)C was found (P < .01), independent of the type of chemotherapy. Changes in CE(P)C levels at day 7 correlated with an increase in tumor volume after three cycles of chemotherapy and predicted PFS/OS, regardless of the tumor type or chemotherapy. These findings indicate that the late release of CE(P)C is a common phenomenon after chemotherapeutic treatment. The correlation with a clinical response and survival provides further support for the biologic relevance of these cells in patients' prognosis and stresses their possible use as a therapeutic target.

MeSH terms

  • AC133 Antigen
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, CD / blood
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Count
  • Chemokine CXCL12 / blood
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / blood
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Glycoproteins / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Peptides / blood
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood
  • Prognosis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / blood


  • AC133 Antigen
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Glycoproteins
  • Peptides
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors