The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is highly prevalent and confers an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A key early event in atherosclerosis is endothelial dysfunction. Numerous groups have reported endothelial dysfunction in MetS. However, the measurement of endothelial function is far from optimum. There has been much interest recently in a subtype of progenitor cells, termed endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), that can circulate, proliferate, and dfferentiate into mature endothelial cells. EPCs can be characterized by the assessment of surface markers, CD34 and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2, VEGFR-2 (KDR). The CD34 +KDR+ phenotype has been demonstrated to be an independent predictor of cardiovascular outcomes. MetS patients without diabetes or cardiovascular diseases have decreased EPC number and functionality as evidenced by decreased numbers of colony forming units, decreased adhesion and migration, and decreased tubule formation. Strategies that have been shown to upregulate and enhance EPC number and functionality include statins, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and peroxisome-proliferator- activating-receptor gamma agonists. Mechanisms by which they affect EPC number and functionality need to be studied. Thus, EPC number and/or functionality could emerge as novel cellular biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular disease risk in MetS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism