Circulating endothelial cells, endothelial progenitor cells, and endothelial microparticles in cancer

PK Goon, Gregory Lip, Christopher Boos, Paul Stonelake, Andrew Blann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

172 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer, a proliferative disease hallmarked by abnormal cell growth and spread, is largely dependent on tumor neoangiogenesis, with evidence of vascular endothelial dysfunction. Novel ways to assess vascular function in cancer include measuring levels of circulating endothelial cells (CEC). Rare in healthy individuals, increased CEC in peripheral blood reflects significant vascular damage and dysfunction. They have been documented in many human diseases, including different types of cancers. An additional circulating cell population are endothelial progenitor cells (EPC), which have the ability to form endothelial colonies in vitro and may contribute toward vasculogenesis. At present, there is great interest in evaluating the role of EPC as novel markers for tumor angiogenesis and drug therapy monitoring. Recently, exocytic procoagulant endothelial microparticles (EMP) have also been identified. CEC, EPC, and EMP research works may have important clinical implications but are often impeded by methodological issues and a lack of consensus on phenotypic identification of these cells and particles. This review aims to collate existing literature and provide an overview on the current position of CEC, EPC, and EMP in cell biology terms and to identify their significance to clinical medicine, with particular emphasis on relationship with cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006


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