Homing of endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) to the ischemic tissues is a key event in neovascularization and tissue regeneration. In response to ischemic insult, injured tissues secrete several chemo-cytokines, including stromal cell-derived factor-1α (SDF-1α), which triggers mobilization and homing of bone marrow-derived EPC (BMD-EPC). We previously reported that SDF-1α-induced EPC homing is mediated by a panel of adhesion molecules highly or selectively expressed on the activated endothelium in ischemic tissues, including E-selectin. Elevated E-selectin on wound vasculature serve as docking sites for circulating EPC, which express counterpart E-selectin ligands. Here, we show that SDF-1α presented in wound tissue and released into circulation can act both locally and remotely to induce ischemic tissue endothelium and BMD-EPC to express both E-selectin and its ligands. By performing BM transplantation using E-selectin-/-and E-selectin +/+ mice as the donors and recipients respectively, we demonstrate that upregulated dual E-selectin/ligand pairs reciprocally expressed on ischemic tissue endothelium and BMD-EPC act as double-locks to secure targeted EPC-endothelium interactions by which to facilitate EPC homing and promote neovascularization and tissue repair. These findings describe a novel mechanism for BMD-EPC homing and indicate that dual E-selectin/ligand pairs may be effective targets/tools for therapeutic neovascularization and targeted cell delivery.
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