, Volume 50, Issue 10, pp 2156-2163
Date: 20 Jun 2007

Glucose tolerance is negatively associated with circulating progenitor cell levels



Circulating progenitor cells participate in cardiovascular homeostasis. Depletion of the pool of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. Furthermore, EPCs are reduced in the presence of classical risk factors for atherosclerotic disease, including diabetes mellitus. This study was designed to evaluate progenitor cell levels in volunteers with different degrees of glucose tolerance.


Cardiovascular parameters and the levels of circulating CD34+ and CD34+ kinase insert domain receptor (KDR)+ cells were determined in 219 middle-aged individuals with no pre-diagnosed alterations in carbohydrate metabolism. Glucose tolerance was determined by fasting and 2 h post-challenge glucose levels, with IFG and IGT considered as pre-diabetic states.


CD34+ and CD34+KDR+ cells were significantly reduced in individuals who were found to have diabetes mellitus, and were negatively correlated with both fasting and post-challenge glucose in the whole population. While only CD34+ cells, but not CD34+KDR+ cells, were significantly reduced in pre-diabetic individuals, post-challenge glucose was an independent determinant of the levels of both CD34+ and CD34+KDR+ cells.


Glucose tolerance was negatively associated with progenitor cell levels in middle-aged healthy individuals. Depletion of endothelial progenitors with increasing fasting and post-meal glucose may be one cause of the high incidence of cardiovascular damage in individuals with pre-diabetes.