Bone marrow-derived cells and their conditioned medium induce microvascular repair in uremic rats by stimulation of endogenous repair mechanisms.
The reduced number of circulating stem/progenitor cells that is found in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients may contribute to impaired angiogenic repair and decreased capillary density in the heart. Cell therapy with bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) has been shown to induce positive effects on the microvasculature and cardiac function, most likely due to secretion of growth factors and cytokines, all of which are present in the conditioned medium (CM); however, this is controversial. Here we showed that treatment with BMDC or CM restored vascular density and decreased the extent of fibrosis in a rat model of CKD, the 5/6 nephrectomy. Engraftment and differentiation of exogenous BMDCs could not be detected. Yet CM led to the mobilization and infiltration of endogenous circulating cells into the heart. Cell recruitment was facilitated by the local expression of pro-inflammatory factors such as the macrophage chemoattractant protein-1, interleukin-6, and endothelial adhesion molecules. Consistently, in vitro assays showed that CM increased endothelial adhesiveness to circulating cells by upregulating the expression of adhesion molecules, and stimulated angiogenesis/endothelial tube formation. Overall, our results suggest that both treatments exert vasculoprotective effects on the heart of uremic rats by stimulating endogenous repair mechanisms.