Over the past decade, interest has been generated in the study of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). EPCs have been studied for their role in endogenous maintenance and for their therapeutic potential in vascular regenerative medicine. Despite their obvious potential in clinical practice, there still remain many controversies regarding how EPCs actually enhance endothelial repair and neovascularization. In addition, because of the limited expansion ability of EPCs, expansion of sufficient EPC populations for therapeutic angiogenesis remains a major task. On the other hand, embryonic stem (ES) cells have an extended self-renewal activity and can be expanded without limit, thus ES-cell-derived endothelial cells could be feasible as a novel cell source for therapeutic angiogenesis. In this review, we discuss recent experimental and clinical findings of EPCs and human ES-cell-derived endothelial cells for the treatment of ischemic cardiovascular diseases.
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