What are the benefits of elevated stem cells?

Over the last 30 years, with reduced cholesterol and an emphasis on increased physical activity, cardiovascular health has improved. There is still work to be done however, as the World Health Organization predicts almost 400,000 Americans will die of coronary disease in 2010. Fortunately, Research scientists have discovered that the number of circulating adult stem cells in the blood stream is beneficial for good health. Even better are the recent studies that have shown the more adult stem cells circulating in the blood, the better cardiovascular health will be.

Some of these studies were reviewed in order for you to understand the health benefits of naturally increasing the release of adult stem cells into the blood stream.

Clinical interest in bone marrow-derived circulating endothelial progenitor cells as a novel vascular risk factor has increased due to their importance in vascular repair and noted inverse relation with endothelial dysfunction as well as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease (1-3).

Vasa, et, al (2001) discovered that people with poor cardiovascular health have less endothelial progenitor stem cells (EPC's) in the blood stream than those with good cardiovascular health (4). EPC's are certain type of stem cell that can create new blood vessels. They are considered to be subgroup of the 'CD34+ stem cells'. The study showed that EPC's taken from people with poor cardiovascular health had less ability to migrate into tissues. The Vasa study also found that people who smoked had fewer EPC's in the blood stream.

Schmidt-Lucke et al (2005) conducted an experiment where 120 individuals (43 control and 77 at risk of cardiovascular health problems) had the number of EPC's in their blood stream measured. The subjects were observed for a period of 10 months and the Schmidt-Lucke study concluded that cardiovascular health problems were linked to a reduced number of EPC's in the blood stream (5).

Lorenzen et al (2010) followed 265 patients with chronic kidney disease stage V receiving hemodialysis therapy. During a median follow-up period of 36 months 109 (41%) patients experienced a cardiovascular event and 70 patients died. They found a significant association between the number of functionally active EPCs and cardiovascular events in patients with chronic kidney disease. Thus, defective vascular repair and regeneration may be responsible, at least in part, for the enormous cardiovascular morbidity in this population. High level of EPCs was associated with lower level of cardiovascular events and longer survival (6).
Cardiovascular disease is the most frequent cause of death in both men and women. However, between the ages of 45 and 65 years, the prevalence of coronary heart disease and the incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke is ∼50% higher in men compared with women. The mechanisms responsible for this sex-related disparity was unclear, until Greta L. et al (2007) demonstrated that EPC colony forming capacity was ∼150% higher in women than in men. Furthermore, migratory activity was ∼40% greater in middle-aged women compared with men. This study is noteworthy since there are no apparent sex differences in the incidence and prevalence of traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors such as hypertension, obesity, tobacco use, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, or sedentary lifestyle in middle-aged adults (7).

Tomás Sobrino et al (2007) have demonstrated that circulating EPC increase in response to cerebral ischemia in patients after acute ischemic stroke, and that the magnitude of this increase is directly related to a better functional outcome. These findings are in line with experimental and human studies which indicate that EPC might mediate endothelial cell regeneration and neovascularization. A higher increase in circulating EPC during the first week is independently associated with a better clinical outcome in acute ischemic stroke patients. However, whether circulating EPC are able to incorporate into brain ischemic areas and to promote regenerative vasculogenesis in humans remains to be clarified. Finally, the role of EPC as a new therapeutic tool able to promote chronic neurorepair of brain tissue damaged by ischemia needs to be further explored, wrote the researchers in 2007. (8)

Because of these recent studies, scientists understand the link between a greater number of circulating adult stem cells and better cardiovascular health. Essentially, poor circulation is a lack of oxygen. When oxygen is lacking, the tissue releases compounds for two tasks. One, to attract EPC's to the tissue and two, to convert EPC's into new capillary cells. We can conclude then, that a tissue lacking oxygen triggers a process where circulating adult stem cells travel to the tissue and become new capillary cells. New capillaries allow for more efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients and thus better health.

In summary, we are well aware that the efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the organs and tissues is vital to optimal health. Thanks to scientists, we are now also aware that the best way to maintain our bodies intricate network of delivery -- the capillaries -- and ultimately our good health, is by increasing the number of circulating adult stem cells in the blood steam.


(1) Dzau VJ, Gnecchi M, Pachori AS, Morello F, Melo LG. Therapeutic potential of endothelial progenitor cells in cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension. 2005;46:7–18. Pubmed.
(2) Urbich C, Dimmeler S. Endothelial progenitor cells characterization and role in vascular biology. Circ Res. 2004;95:343–353. Pubmed.
(3) Hill J, Zalos G, Halcox J, Schenkne W, Waclawiw M, Quyyumi A, Finkel T. Circulating endothelial progenitor cells, vascular function, and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med. 2003;348:593–600. Pubmed.
(4) Vasa M et. al: Number and migratory activity of circulating endothelial progenitor cells inversely correlate with risk factors for coronary artery disease. Circ Research, 2001 Jul 6;89(1):E1-7.
(5) Schmidt-Lucke C. et.al; Reduced number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells predicts future cardiovascular events: proof of concept for the clinical importance of endogenous vascular repair. Circulation. 2005 Jun 7;111(22):2981-7. Epub 2005 May 31.
(6) Lorenzen J, David S, Bahlmann FH, de Groot K, Bahlmann E, et al. (2010) Endothelial Progenitor Cells and Cardiovascular Events in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease – a Prospective Follow-Up Study. PLoS ONE 5(7): e11477. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011477. July 8, 2010
(7) Greta L. et al; Sex Differences in Circulating Endothelial Progenitor Cell Colony-Forming Capacity and Migratory Activity in Middle-Aged Adults. Am J Cardiol. 2007 January 1; 99(1): 46-48.
(8) Tomás Sobrino et al; The Increase of Circulating Endothelial Progenitor Cells After Acute Ischemic Stroke Is Associated With Good Outcome. Stroke. 2007;38:2759-2764