Egfl7 (VE-statin) is a secreted protein mostly specific to the endothelial lineage during development and in the adult and which expression is enhanced during angiogenesis. Egfl7 involvement in human postnatal vasculogenesis remains unresolved yet. Our aim was to assess Egfl7 expression in several angiogenic cell types originating from human bone marrow, peripheral blood, or cord blood. We found that only endothelial colony forming cells (ECFC), which are currently considered as the genuine endothelial precursor cells, expressed large amounts of Egfl7. In order to assess its potential roles in ECFC, Egfl7 was repressed in ECFC by RNA interference and ECFC angiogenic capacities were tested in vitro and in vivo. Cell proliferation, differentiation, and migration were significantly improved when Egfl7 was repressed in ECFC in vitro, whereas miR-126-3p levels remained unchanged. In vivo, repression of Egfl7 in ECFC significantly improved post-ischemic revascularization in a model of mouse hind-limb ischemia. In conclusion, ECFC are the sole postnatal angiogenic cells which express large amounts of Egfl7 and whose angiogenic properties are repressed by this factor. Thus, Egfl7 inhibition may be considered as a therapeutic option to improve ECFC-mediated postnatal vasculogenesis and to optimize in vitro ECFC expansion in order to develop an optimized cell therapy approach.
- Endothelial colony forming cells
- Endothelial progenitor cells