American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology

Neuregulin-1β regulation of embryonic endothelial progenitor cell survival.

PMID 21239627


Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are mobilized into the vascular space and home to damaged tissues, where they promote repair in part through a process of angiogenesis. Neuregulins (NRGs) are ligands in the epidermal growth factor family that signal through type I receptor tyrosine kinases in the erbB family (erbB2, erbB3, and erbB4) and regulate endothelial cell biology, promoting angiogenesis. Stimuli such as ischemia and exercise that promote EPC mobilization also induce cleavage and release of transmembrane NRG from cardiac microvascular endothelial cells (CMECs). We hypothesized that NRG/erbB signaling may regulate EPC biology. Using an embryonic (e)EPC cell line that homes to and repairs injured myocardium, we were able to detect erbB2 and erbB3 transcripts. Identical receptor expression was found in EPCs isolated from rat bone marrow and human whole blood. NRG treatment of eEPCs induces phosphorylation of kinases including Akt, GSK-3β, and Erk1/2 and the nuclear accumulation and transcriptional activation of β-catenin. NRG does not induce eEPC proliferation or migration but does protect eEPCs against serum deprivation-induced apoptosis. These results suggest a role for tissue-derived NRG in the regulation of EPC survival.