Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have been isolated and shown to be effective in animal models of ischemia, and many groups involved in clinical trials have demonstrated that EPC therapy is safe and feasible for the treatment of critical limb ischemia and cardiovascular diseases. However, many issues in the field of EPC biology, especially in regards to the proper and unambiguous molecular characterization of these cells still remain unresolved, hampering not only basic research but also the effective therapeutic use and widespread application of these cells. In this review, we introduce the recent concept of EPC identification in terms of hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic EPCs along with the development of EPC biology research. Furthermore, we define the role of circulating EPCs in postnatal neovascularization to illustrate the future direction of EPC therapeutic applications. Next, we review on-going medical applications of EPC for cardiovascular and peripheral vascular diseases, introduce the practical example of therapeutic application of EPCs to patients with ischemic disease, and discuss about the feedback of clinical researches.
Copyright © 2011 AlphaMed Press.