The efficacy of cell therapy using endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) in the treatment of ischemia is limited by the replicative senescence of isolated ECFCs in vitro. Such senescence must therefore be overcome in order for such cell therapies to be clinically applicable. This study aimed to investigate the potential of sulfated polysaccharide fucoidan to rescue ECFCs from cellular senescence and to improve in vivo vascular repair by ECFCs. Fucoidan-preconditioning of senescent ECFCs was shown by flow cytometry to restore the expression of functional ECFC surface markers (CD34, c-Kit, VEGFR2, and CXCR4) and stimulate the in vitro tube formation capacity of ECFCs. Fucoidan also promoted the expression of cell cycle-associated proteins (cyclin E, Cdk2, cyclin D1, and Cdk4) in senescent ECFCs, significantly reversed cellular senescence, and increased the proliferation of ECFCs via the FAK, Akt, and ERK signaling pathways. Fucoidan was found to enhance the survival, proliferation, incorporation, and endothelial differentiation of senescent ECFCs transplanted in ischemic tissues in a murine hind limb ischemia model. Moreover, ECFC-induced functional recovery and limb salvage were markedly improved by fucoidan pretreatment of ECFCs. To our knowledge, the findings of our study are the first to demonstrate that fucoidan enhances the neovasculogenic potential of ECFCs by rescuing them from replicative cellular senescence. Pretreatment of ECFCs with fucoidan may thus provide a novel strategy for the application of senescent stem cells to therapeutic neovascularization.
Keywords: Akt; ERK; Endothelial colony-forming cells; Fucoidan; Replicative cellular senescence; Vascular repair.
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