In patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), the use of endothelial colony forming cells (ECFC) for transplant was associated with restoration of myocardial vascular density, according to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Investigators isolated ECFC from patients with PAH (n=33) as well as healthy controls (n=30). Additionally, the researchers transplanted ECFC in pulmonary trunk banded rats with right ventricular failure. In patients with PAH and patients with low right ventricular ejection fraction, the presence of ECFC outgrowth was associated with low central venous saturation as well as a shorter time to clinical worsening (5.4 months [0.6-29.2] vs 36.5 months [7.4-63.4]; P =.032).

Proliferative rates were higher in patients with PAH who received ECFC compared with control in vitro, and proliferation of ECFC was inversely associated with right ventricular end diastolic volume (repeated measurements analysis of variance, P-interaction =.018, t=8 days). The researchers observed similar tube formation ability in donors. Although there was no effect of ECFC transplantation on hemodynamic measurements, the researchers did observe restoration of right ventricular vascular density.

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Although the small size of the patient cohort may be a study limitation, the researchers believe that “restoring ECFC angio-proliferative ability could be a target for therapy” in patients with PAH.

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Smits J, Tasev D, Andersen S, et al. Blood outgrowth and proliferation of endothelial colony forming cells are related to markers of disease severity in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(12):3763.