Association of circulating CD34+ cells level and prognosis after ischemic stroke

Int J Stroke. 2024 Apr;19(4):460-469. doi: 10.1177/17474930231217192. Epub 2023 Dec 24.


Background: CD34 is a transmembrane phosphoglycoprotein and a marker of hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. In experimental studies, CD34+ cells are rich sources of endothelial progenitor cells and can promote neovascularization and endothelial repair. The potential role of CD34+ cells in stroke patients remains unclear.

Aims: We aimed to assess the prognostic effect of circulating CD34+ cell levels on the risk of vascular events and functional prognosis in stroke patients.

Patients and methods: In this prospective observational study, patients with ischemic stroke were consecutively enrolled within 1 week of onset and followed up for 1 year. Patients were divided into three groups according to tertiles of the level of circulating CD34+ cells (Tertile 1, <0.51/µL; Tertile 2, 0.51-0.96/µL; and Tertile 3, >0.96/µL). The primary outcome was a composite of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACEs), including nonfatal stroke, nonfatal acute coronary syndrome, major peripheral artery disease, and vascular death. The secondary outcomes included the modified Rankin scale (mRS) scores.

Results: A total of 524 patients (mean age, 71.3 years; male, 60.1%) were included. High CD34+ cell levels were associated with younger age (p < 0.001) and low National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale scores at admission (p = 0.010). No significant differences were found in the risk of MACEs among the three groups (annual rates: 15.0%, 13.4%, and 12.6% in Tertiles 1, 2, and 3, respectively; log-rank p = 0.70). However, there were significant differences in the mRS scores at 3 months (median (interquartile range); 2 (1-4), 1 (1-3), and 1 (0-2) in Tertiles 1, 2, and 3, respectively; p = 0.010) and 1 year (3 (1-4), 2 (1-4), and 1 (0-3); p < 0.001) among these groups. After multivariable adjustments, a higher CD34+ cell level was independently associated with good functional outcomes (mRS score of 0-2) at 3 months (adjusted odds ratio (OR), 1.43; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01-2.05) and 1 year (adjusted OR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.09-2.16).

Conclusion: Although no correlations were found between circulating CD34+ cell levels and vascular event risk, elevated CD34+ cell levels were associated with favorable functional recovery in stroke patients.

Data access statement: Data supporting the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Clinical trial registration: The TWMU Stroke Registry is registered at as UMIN000031913.

Keywords: Angiogenesis; CD34+ cells; endothelial progenitor cells; prognosis; stroke; vasculogenesis.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD34
  • Endothelial Progenitor Cells*
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke*
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Stroke*


  • Antigens, CD34