Endothelial dysfunction and injury are considered to contribute considerably to the development and progression of atherosclerosis. It has been suggested that intense exercise training can increase the number and angiogenic properties of early endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). However, whether exercise training stimulates the capacity of early EPCs to promote repair of endothelial damage and potential underlying mechanisms remain to be determined. The present study was designed to evaluate the effects of moderate exercise training on in vivo endothelial repair capacity of early EPCs, and their nitric oxide and superoxide production as characterized by electron spin resonance spectroscopy analysis in subjects with metabolic syndrome.
METHODS AND RESULTS:
Twenty-four subjects with metabolic syndrome were randomized to an 8 weeks exercise training or a control group. Superoxide production and nitric oxide (NO) availability of early EPCs were characterized by using electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy analysis. In vivo endothelial repair capacity of EPCs was examined by transplantation into nude mice with defined carotid endothelial injury. Endothelium-dependent, flow-mediated vasodilation was analysed using high-resolution ultrasound. Importantly, exercise training resulted in a substantially improved in vivo endothelial repair capacity of early EPCs (24.0 vs 12.7%; p < 0.05) and improved endothelium-dependent vasodilation. Nitric oxide production of EPCs was substantially increased after exercise training, but not in the control group. Moreover, exercise training reduced superoxide production of EPCs, which was not observed in the control group.
The present study suggests for the first time that moderate exercise training increases nitric oxide production of early endothelial progenitor cells and reduces their superoxide production. Importantly, this is associated with a marked beneficial effect on the in vivo endothelial repair capacity of early EPCs in subjects with metabolic syndrome.