• stem cells;
  • IBD;
  • mobilization;
  • VSELs



Developmentally early cells, including hematopoietic stem progenitor cells (HSPCs), mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), and very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs), are mobilized into peripheral blood (PB) in response to tissue/organ injury. We sought to determine whether these cells are mobilized into PB in patients with Crohn's disease (CD).


Twenty-five patients with active CD, 20 patients in clinical remission, and 25 age-matched controls were recruited and PB samples harvested. The circulating CD133+/Lin−/CD45+ and CD34+/Lin−/CD45+ cells enriched for HSPCs, CD105+/STRO-1+/CD45− cells enriched for MSCs, CD34+/KDR+/CD31+/CD45−cells enriched for EPCs, and small CXCR4+CD34+CD133+ subsets of Lin−CD45− cells that correspond to the population of VSELs were counted by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and evaluated by direct immunofluorescence staining for pluripotency embryonic markers and by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for expression of messenger (m)RNAs for a panel of genes expressed in intestine epithelial stem cells. The serum concentration of factors involved in stem cell trafficking, such as stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).


Our data indicate that cells expressing markers for MSCs, EPCs, and small Oct-4+Nanog+SSEA-4+CXCR4+lin−CD45− VSELs are mobilized into PB in CD. The mobilized cells also expressed at the mRNA level genes playing a role in development and regeneration of gastrointestinal epithelium. All these changes were accompanied by increased serum concentrations of VEGF and HGF.


CD triggers the mobilization of MSCs, EPCs, and VSELs, while the significance and precise role of these mobilized cells in repair of damaged intestine requires further study. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2012;)