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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 835934, 17 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/835934
Review Article

Are Endothelial Progenitor Cells the Real Solution for Cardiovascular Diseases? Focus on Controversies and Perspectives

1Department of Pathobiology and Medical Biotechnologies, University of Palermo, 90134 Palermo, Italy
2Unit of Cardiac Surgery, Department of Surgery and Oncology, University of Palermo, 90134 Palermo, Italy
3Department of General and Specialist Surgery, University of Rome “Sapienza”, 00161 Rome, Italy

Received 19 March 2015; Revised 19 June 2015; Accepted 15 July 2015

Academic Editor: Sebastiano Sciarretta

Copyright © 2015 Carmela R. Balistreri et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Advanced knowledge in the field of stem cell biology and their ability to provide a cue for counteracting several diseases are leading numerous researchers to focus their attention on “regenerative medicine” as possible solutions for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). However, the lack of consistent evidence in this arena has hampered the clinical application. The same condition affects the research on endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), creating more confusion than comprehension. In this review, this aspect is discussed with particular emphasis. In particular, we describe biology and physiology of EPCs, outline their clinical relevance as both new predictive, diagnostic, and prognostic CVD biomarkers and therapeutic agents, discuss advantages, disadvantages, and conflicting data about their use as possible solutions for vascular impairment and clinical applications, and finally underline a very crucial aspect of EPCs “characterization and definition,” which seems to be the real cause of large heterogeneity existing in literature data on this topic.