Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Smoking decreases the level of circulating CD34+ progenitor cells in young healthy women - a pilot study

Antje Ludwig1, Nicoline Jochmann1, Andras Kertesz1, Claudia Kuhn1, Simone Mueller1, Christine Gericke2, Gert Baumann1, Karl Stangl1 and Verena Stangl1*

Author Affiliations

1 Med. Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Kardiologie und Angiologie, Charité - Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Campus Mitte, Berlin, Germany

2 Institut für Biometrie und Klinische Epidemiologie, Charité - Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Campus Mitte, Berlin, Germany

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BMC Women's Health 2010, 10:20  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-10-20

Published: 30 May 2010



Decreased levels of circulating bone marrow-derived progenitor cells have been associated with risk factors and cardiovascular diseases. Smoking is the most important modifiable risk factor for atherosclerosis in young women. The aim of this pilot study was to assess in healthy premenopausal women without other risk factors for cardiovascular disease the influence of nicotine abuse on the number of circulating progenitor cells in relation to endothelial function.


The number of endothelial progenitor cells, measured as colony-forming units in a cell-culture assay (EPC-CFU) and the number of circulating CD34 + and CD34 + /CD133 + cells, measured by flow cytometry, was estimated in 32 women at the menstrual phase of the menstrual cycle. In addition, flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was assessed as a marker for vascular function. In a subgroup of these women (n = 20), progenitor cells were also investigated at the mid-follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle.


Compared to non-smokers, the abundance of circulating CD34 + cells was significantly lower in smoking women in the menstrual, mid-luteal, and mid-follicular phases of the menstrual cycle. The number of CD34 + progenitor cells was revealed to have significant positive correlation with FMD in young healthy women, whereas CD34 + /CD133 + progenitor cells and EPC-CFU showed no significant correlation.


The number of CD34 + progenitor cells positively correlates with FMD in young healthy women and is decreased by smoking.