Endothelial Colony Forming Cells (ECFCs) are obtained in culture from Circulating Endothelial Progenitor Cells. They display all characteristics of endothelial cells and they display stem cells features. Cord blood-derived ECFCs (CB-ECFCs) have a high clonogenic and proliferative potentials, and exhibit vascular repair capabilities useful for the treatment of ischemic diseases. However, the link between immaturity and functional properties of CB-ECFCs is still poorly defined. We showed that these cells have a high clonogenic potential and are capable to be efficiently reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells. Moreover, we analyzed the expression of a broad panel of genes involved in embryonic stem cell properties. We define a novel stem cell transcriptional signature for CB-ECFCs fora better characterization and stratification according to their stem cell profile. We then improved the yield of CB-ECFC production for obtaining cells more functional in fewer passages. We used Glycosaminoglycans (GAG), components from the extracellular matrix which potentiate heparin binding growth factor activities. GAG mimetics were designed, having the capacity to increase the yield of ECFC during the isolation process, to increase the number of colonies, improve adhesion, proliferation, migration and self-renewal. GAG mimetics have thus great interest for vascular regeneration in combination with ECFC. Our results show that CB-ECFC are immature cells harboring specific functions such as formation of colonies, proliferation and formation of vascular structures in vitro and in vivo.
Keywords: Vascular repair; circulating endothelial progenitors; plasticity; stem cells.