Neuregulin-1β regulation of embryonic endothelial progenitor cell survival

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011 Apr;300(4):H1311-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.01104.2009. Epub 2011 Jan 14.


Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are mobilized into the vascular space and home to damaged tissues, where they promote repair in part through a process of angiogenesis. Neuregulins (NRGs) are ligands in the epidermal growth factor family that signal through type I receptor tyrosine kinases in the erbB family (erbB2, erbB3, and erbB4) and regulate endothelial cell biology, promoting angiogenesis. Stimuli such as ischemia and exercise that promote EPC mobilization also induce cleavage and release of transmembrane NRG from cardiac microvascular endothelial cells (CMECs). We hypothesized that NRG/erbB signaling may regulate EPC biology. Using an embryonic (e)EPC cell line that homes to and repairs injured myocardium, we were able to detect erbB2 and erbB3 transcripts. Identical receptor expression was found in EPCs isolated from rat bone marrow and human whole blood. NRG treatment of eEPCs induces phosphorylation of kinases including Akt, GSK-3β, and Erk1/2 and the nuclear accumulation and transcriptional activation of β-catenin. NRG does not induce eEPC proliferation or migration but does protect eEPCs against serum deprivation-induced apoptosis. These results suggest a role for tissue-derived NRG in the regulation of EPC survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neuregulin-1 / pharmacology
  • Neuregulin-1 / physiology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / biosynthesis
  • Receptor, ErbB-3 / biosynthesis
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Neuregulin-1
  • beta Catenin
  • neuregulin beta
  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptor, ErbB-3
  • GSK3B protein, human
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Gsk3b protein, mouse
  • Gsk3b protein, rat
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3