Chronic cardiometabolic assaults during type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity induce a progenitor cell imbalance in the circulation characterized by overproduction and release of pro-inflammatory monocytes and granulocytes from the bone marrow alongside aberrant differentiation and mobilization of pro-vascular progenitor cells that generate downstream progeny for the coordination of blood vessel repair. This imbalance can be detected in the peripheral blood of individuals with established T2D and severe obesity using multiparametric flow cytometry analyses to discern pro-inflammatory vs. pro-angiogenic progenitor cell subsets identified by high aldehyde dehydrogenase activity, a conserved progenitor cell protective function, combined with lineage-restricted cell surface marker analyses.
Recent evidence suggests that progenitor cell imbalance can be reversed by treatment with pharmacological agents or surgical interventions that reduce hyperglycaemia or excess adiposity. In this state-of-the-art review, we present current strategies to assess the progression of pro-vascular regenerative cell depletion in peripheral blood samples of individuals with T2D and obesity and we summarize novel clinical data that intervention using sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibition or gastric bypass surgery can efficiently restore cell-mediated vascular repair mechanisms associated with profound cardiovascular benefits in recent outcome trials.
Collectively, this thesis generates a compelling argument for early intervention using current pharmacological agents to prevent or restore imbalanced circulating progenitor content and maintain vascular regenerative cell trafficking to sites of ischaemic damage.
This conceptual advancement may lead to the design of novel therapeutic approaches to prevent or reverse the devastating cardiovascular comorbidities currently associated with T2D and obesity.