Eur J Pharmacol 2020 May 31;881:173233. Epub 2020 May 31.
Center for Precision Medicine and Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, MO, USA. Electronic address:
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are important to tissue repair and regeneration especially after ischemic injury, and very heterogeneous in phenotypes and biological features. Reactive oxygen species are involved in regulating EPC number and function. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) inhibits ischemia-induced reactive oxygen species formation and promotes ischemic limb recovery. This study was to evaluate the effect of NAC on EPC subpopulations in bone marrow (BM) and blood in mice with limb ischemia. Limb ischemia was induced by femoral artery ligation in male C57BL/6 mice with or without NAC treatment. EPC subpopulations, intracellular reactive oxygen species production, cell proliferation and apoptosis in BM and blood cells were analyzed at baseline, day 3 (acute ischemia) and 21 (chronic) after ligation. c-Kit+/CD31+, Sca-1+/Flk-1+, CD34+/CD133+, and CD34+/Flk-1+ were used to define EPC subpopulations. Limb blood flow, function, muscle structure, and capillary density were evaluated with laser Doppler perfusion imaging, treadmill test, and immunohistochemistry, respectively, at day 3, 7, 14 and 21 post ischemia. Reactive oxygen species production in circulating and BM mononuclear cells and EPCs populations were significantly increased in BM and blood in mice with acute and chronic ischemia. NAC treatment effectively blocked ischemia-induced reactive oxygen species production in circulating and BM mononuclear cells, and selectively increased EPC population in circulation, not BM, with preserved proliferation in mice with chronic ischemia, and enhanced limb blood flow and function recovery, while preventing acute ischemia-induced increase in BM and circulating EPCs. These data demonstrated that NAC selectively enhanced circulating EPC population in mice with chronic limb ischemia.