Objectives: Circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) are markers of vascular injury and their numbers decrease in acute stroke. However, the relation of EPC levels to stroke severity has not been quantified. MRI measurements of lesion volume provide an objective method for stroke severity assessment and outcome prediction. This cross-sectional study aims to determine whether EPC are correlated with lesion volume at baseline, lesion growth, and final lesion volume. Methods: Seventeen patients (median age 63 years, NIH Stroke Scale score 7) were selected from 175 patients with imaging-confirmed acute ischemic stroke. EPC were quantified by flow cytometry using CD34, CD133, and VEGFR2 surface markers. Brain MRI was performed at baseline and at days 1 and 5 after the stroke onset. Stroke lesion volumes were quantified. Results: Larger lesion volumes measured on diffusion-weighted images (DWI) at baseline were associated with low EPC levels, while smaller lesion volumes and less lesion growth were linked with high levels of EPC subsets (CD34+CD133+, CD133+VEGFR2+, and CD34+ CD133+VEGFR2+). Similar results were observed with DWI lesion volumes and EPC (CD34+CD133+) on day 1. Lesion growth volume, represented as a difference between final lesion volume and baseline DWI, was larger in patients with lower day 1 EPC (CD133+VEGFR2+). After adjustments for age and admission glucose (model 1), mean arterial pressure and white blood cells (model 2), INR and hematocrit (model 3), the CD34+CD133+ subset remained predictive of baseline and day 1 lesion volumes, while CD133+VEGFR2+ predicted baseline lesion volume and growth of lesion volume. Conclusions: Higher EPC levels were indicative of smaller volumes of acute lesion, final lesion, and lesion growth, and may serve as markers of acute phase stroke severity. However, a larger prospective study is needed to confirm our findings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology