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MicroRNA-21/PDCD4 proapoptotic signaling from circulating CD34+ cells to vascular endothelial cells: a potential contributor to adverse cardiovascular outcomes in patients with critical limb ischemia

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posted on 01.05.2020 by Gaia Spinetti, Elena Sangalli, Elena Tagliabue, Davide Maselli, Ornella Colpani, David Ferland-McCollough, Franco Carnelli, Patrizia Orlando, Agostino Paccagnella, Anna Furlan, Piero Maria Stefani, Luisa Sambado, Maria Sambataro, Paolo Madeddu
Objective. In patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and critical limb ischemia (CLI), migration of circulating CD34+ cells predicted cardiovascular mortality at 18 months post-revascularization. This study aimed to provide long-term validation and mechanistic understanding of the biomarker.

Research Design and Methods. The association between CD34+ cell migration and cardiovascular mortality was reassessed at 6 years post-revascularization. In a new series of T2D-CLI and control subjects, immuno-sorted bone marrow (BM)-CD34+ cells were profiled for microRNA expression and assessed for apoptosis and angiogenesis activity. The differentially regulated microRNA-21, and its pro-apoptotic target PDCD4, were titrated to verify their contribution in transferring damaging signals from CD34+ cells to endothelial cells.

Results. Multivariable regression analysis confirmed CD34+ cell migration forecasts long-term cardiovascular mortality. CD34+ cells from T2D-CLI patients were more apoptotic and less proangiogenic than controls and featured microRNA-21 downregulation, modulation of several long non-coding RNAs acting as microRNA-21 sponges, and upregulation of the microRNA-21 proapoptotic target PDCD4. Silencing miR-21 in control CD34+ cells phenocopied the T2D-CLI cell behavior. In coculture, T2D-CLI CD34+ cells imprinted naïve endothelial cells, increasing apoptosis, reducing network formation, and modulating the TUG1 sponge/microRNA-21/PDCD4 axis. Silencing PDCD4 or scavenging ROS protected endothelial cells from the negative influence of T2D-CLI CD34+ cells

Conclusions. Migration of CD34+ cells predicts long-term cardiovascular mortality in T2D-CLI patients. An altered paracrine signalling conveys anti-angiogenic and pro-apoptotic features from CD34+ cells to the endothelium. This damaging interaction may increase the risk for life-threatening complications.


Funding/financial support was obtained from the Italian Ministry of Health, Ricerca Corrente to the IRCCS MultiMedica, Cariplo Foundation (2016-0922), BHF program grant. Study 1 was also supported by Diabetic ONLUS Association, section of Treviso.