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The dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor Saxagliptin improves function of circulating pro-angiogenic cells from type 2 diabetic patients

Nicol Poncina12, Mattia Albiero1, Lisa Menegazzo12, Roberta Cappellari1, Angelo Avogaro12 and Gian Paolo Fadini12*

Author Affiliations

1 Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine, University Hospital of Padova, Via Giustiniani, Padova 2. 35100, Italy

2 Department of Medicine, Division of Metabolic Diseases, University Hospital of Padova, Via Giustiniani, Padova 2. 35100, Italy

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Cardiovascular Diabetology 2014, 13:92  doi:10.1186/1475-2840-13-92

Published: 14 May 2014



Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is associated with reduction and dysfunction of circulating pro-angiogenic cells (PACs). DPP-4 inhibitors, a class of oral agents for T2D, might possess pleiotropic vasculoprotective activities. Herein, we tested whether DPP-4 inhibition with Saxagliptin affects the function of circulating PACs from T2D and healthy subjects.


PACs were isolated from T2D (n = 20) and healthy (n = 20) subjects. Gene expression, clonogenesis, proliferation, adhesion, migration and tubulisation were assessed in vitro by incubating PACs with or without Saxagliptin and SDF-1α. Stimulation of angiogenesis by circulating cells from T2D patients treated with Saxagliptin or other non-incretinergic drugs was assessed in vivo using animal models.


Soluble DPP-4 activity was predominant over cellular activity and was successfully inhibited by Saxagliptin. At baseline, T2D compared to healthy PACs contained less acLDL+Lectin+ cells, and showed altered expression of genes related to adhesion and cell cycle regulation. This was reflected by impaired adhesion and clonogenesis/proliferative response of T2D PACs. Saxagliptin + SDF-1α improved adhesion and tube sustaining capacity of PACs from T2D patients. CD14+ PACs were more responsive to Saxagliptin than CD14- PACs. While Saxagliptin modestly reduced angiogenesis by mature endothelial cells, circulating PACs-progeny cells from T2D patients on Saxagliptin treatment displayed higher growth factor-inducible in vivo angiogenetic activity, compared to cells from T2D patients on non-incretinergic regimen.


Saxagliptin reverses PACs dysfunction associated with T2D in vitro and improves inducible angiogenesis by circulating cells in vivo. These data add knowledge to the potential pleiotropic cardiovascular effects of DPP-4 inhibition.

Regeneration; Stem cells; Angiogenesis; Cardiovascular disease