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Journal of Diabetes Research
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 436879, 17 pages
Review Article

Epigenetic Changes in Endothelial Progenitors as a Possible Cellular Basis for Glycemic Memory in Diabetic Vascular Complications

Centre for Experimental Medicine, School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Biomedical Science, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT12 6BA, UK

Received 5 January 2015; Revised 23 April 2015; Accepted 27 April 2015

Academic Editor: Stefania Camastra

Copyright © 2015 Poojitha Rajasekar 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.


The vascular complications of diabetes significantly impact the quality of life and mortality in diabetic patients. Extensive evidence from various human clinical trials has clearly established that a period of poor glycemic control early in the disease process carries negative consequences, such as an increase in the development and progression of vascular complications that becomes evident many years later. Importantly, intensive glycemic control established later in the disease process cannot reverse or slow down the onset or progression of diabetic vasculopathy. This has been named the glycemic memory phenomenon. Scientists have successfully modelled glycemic memory using various in vitro and in vivo systems. This review emphasizes that oxidative stress and accumulation of advanced glycation end products are key factors driving glycemic memory in endothelial cells. Furthermore, various epigenetic marks have been proposed to closely associate with vascular glycemic memory. In addition, we comment on the importance of endothelial progenitors and their role as endogenous vasoreparative cells that are negatively impacted by the diabetic milieu and may constitute a “carrier” of glycemic memory. Considering the potential of endothelial progenitor-based cytotherapies, future studies on their glycemic memory are warranted to develop epigenetics-based therapeutics targeting diabetic vascular complications.