cardiovascular disease

Primitive Blood Cells Benefit Cardiovascular Disease Treatment

Multiple primitive cells in the adult blood stream may provide the same benefits to the understanding and treatment of cardiovascular disease as the illusive adult stem cell, according to a new study.

Having the ability to transform into any other type of cell has made the stem cell highly sought after.  The process of isolating the cell from the blood around it, however, is extremely difficult. 

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While exploring the gene expression patterns in blood, researchers found that several types of cells circulating through the body retain “primitive” properties that provide repair tissue to blood vessel cells.

Using the gene activation patterns, researchers were able to identify which genes were associated with common cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure and inflexible blood vessels. 

These characteristics could eventually be used by physicians to diagnose and treat these conditions, as well as monitor the effects of treatments and determine a prognosis. 

Blood samples for the test came from 26 healthy patients and 20 patients with high blood pressure. Researchers compared the expression patterns of the previously identified primitive and cardiovascular-related cells to the patient’s age, vascular stiffness, blood pressure, and body mass index.

Higher expressions of the identified genes were associated with younger age, lower blood pressure and more flexible blood vessels. 

"This means the genes in this module are protective against high blood pressure and vascular stiffness, which are related," researchers concluded.

"And they reflect a property of blood that is being lost in time, as you would expect from progenitor cells. They have a protective and presumably repairing function, which diminishes with age."

–Michael Potts


A module of human peripheral blood mononuclear cell transcriptional network containing primitive and differentiation markers is related to specific cardiovascular health variables. [Published online ahead of print April 23, 2014] PLOS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095124