Open Access Research article

Distinct angiogenesis roles and surface markers of early and late endothelial progenitor cells revealed by functional group analyses

Cheng-Chung Cheng1, Shing-Jyh Chang7, Yu-Neng Chueh2, Tse-Shun Huang2, Po-Hsun Huang456, Shu-Meng Cheng1, Tsung-Neng Tsai1, Jaw-Wen Chen456* and Hsei-Wei Wang238*

Author affiliations

1 Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan

2 Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

3 VGH Yang-Ming Genome Research Center, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

4 School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

5 Cardiovascular Research Center, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

6 Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, National Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

7 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Hsin Chu, Taiwan

8 Department of Education and Research, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2013, 14:182  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-182

Published: 15 March 2013



Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play a fundamental role in post-natal vascular repair. Currently EPCs are defined as either early and late EPCs based on their biological properties and their time of appearance during in vitro culture. EPCs are rare and therefore optimizing isolation and culture is required before they can be applied as part of clinical therapies.


We compared the gene profiles of early/late EPCs to their ancestors CD133+ or CD34+ stem cells and to matured endothelial cells pinpointing novel biomarkers and stemness genes. Late EPCs were enriched with proliferation and angiogenesis genes, participating in endothelial tubulogenesis and hence neovascularization. Early EPCs expressed abundant inflammatory cytokines and paracrine angiogenic factors, thereby promoting angiogenesis in a paracrine manner. Transcription factors involved in EPC stemness were pinpointed in early EPCs (MAF/MAFB) and in late EPCs (GATA6/IRF6).


The detailed mRNA expression profiles and functional module analysis for different EPCs will help the development of novel therapeutic modalities targeting cardiovascular disease, tumor angiogenesis and various ischemia-related diseases.