Human CD133+ progenitor cells promote the healing of diabetic ischemic ulcers by paracrine stimulation of angiogenesis and activation of Wnt signaling

Lucíola S. Barcelos, Cécile Duplaa, Nicolle Kränkel, Gallia Graiani, Gloria Invernici, Rajesh Katare, Mauro Siragusa, Marco Meloni, Ilaria Campesi, Manuela Monica, Andreas Simm, Paola Campagnolo, Giuseppe Mangialardi, Lara Stevanato, Giulio Alessandri, Costanza Emanueli, Paolo Madeddu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We evaluated the healing potential of human fetal aorta-derived CD133 progenitor cells and their conditioned medium (CD133 CCM) in a new model of ischemic diabetic ulcer. Streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice underwent bilateral limb ischemia and wounding. One wound was covered with collagen containing 2×10 CD133 or CD133 cells or vehicle. The contralateral wound, covered with only collagen, served as control. Fetal CD133 cells expressed high levels of wingless (Wnt) genes, which were downregulated following differentiation into CD133 cells along with upregulation of Wnt antagonists secreted frizzled-related protein (sFRP)-1, -3, and -4. CD133 cells accelerated wound closure as compared with CD133 or vehicle and promoted angiogenesis through stimulation of endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and survival by paracrine effects. CD133 cells secreted high levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A and interleukin (IL)-8. Consistently, CD133 CCM accelerated wound closure and reparative angiogenesis, with this action abrogated by coadministering the Wnt antagonist sFRP-1 or neutralizing antibodies against VEGF-A or IL-8. In vitro, these effects were recapitulated following exposure of high-glucose-primed human umbilical vein endothelial cells to CD133 CCM, resulting in stimulation of migration, angiogenesis-like network formation and induction of Wnt expression. The promigratory and proangiogenic effect of CD133 CCM was blunted by sFRP-1, as well as antibodies against VEGF-A or IL-8. CD133 cells stimulate wound healing by paracrine mechanisms that activate Wnt signaling pathway in recipients. These preclinical findings open new perspectives for the cure of diabetic ulcers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1102
Number of pages8
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 8 2009


  • Angiogenesis
  • Diabetes
  • Ischemia
  • Stem cells
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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