Endothelial cells play important structural and functional roles in vascular homoeostasis. Perturbations in endothelial cell number and function are directly involved with the initiation and progression of multiple cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, hypertension and congestive heart failure. Attempts to modify these disorders have included pharmacological strategies to improve vascular and thus endothelial function. A goal of biological approaches to these disorders is the delivery of endothelial cells that might act to provide beneficial endothelial-derived factors. However, this approach has generally been limited by the lack of readily available autologous endothelial cells for delivery. The isolation of circulation-derived endothelial progenitor cells allows for direct access to autologous endothelial cells for preclinical and clinical studies. Preclinical studies using autologous endothelial cells have demonstrated beneficial effects when delivered in animal models of vascular injury and grafting. These effects are related to the endothelial nature of the cells and may be paracrine in nature. Ongoing studies are aimed at defining the nature of these effects and optimizing delivery strategies cognizant of these mechanisms.

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