CD34+ progenitors are predictive of mortality and are associated with physical activity in cardiovascular disease patients

David Muggeridge, Jennifer Dodd, Mark D. Ross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims: Circulating progenitor cells (CPCs) play an important role in vascular repair and can influence cardiovascular (CV) health and longevity. Exercise is known to modulate these cells via mobilization from the bone marrow. The primary aims of this study were to evaluate the association of CPCs with mortality and explore the association between physical activity (PA) and CPCs.

Methods: 1751 individuals from the Framingham Offspring cohort (66 ± 9 years [40–92 years], 54% female) were included in the study. CPCs (CD34+, CD34+CD133+, CD34+CD133+KDR+) were measured by flow cytometry. Multivariable Cox regression analyses were performed to investigate relationship of CPCs with future CV event and mortality. Multivariate regression analyses were performed to determine the relationship between self-reported PA and CPC counts.

Results: Following adjustment for standard risk factors, there was an inverse association between CD34+ CPCs and all-cause mortality (hazard ratio (HR) per unit increase in CD34+, 0.79; 95% CI 0.64–0.98, p = 0.036). CD34+CD133+ CPCs were inversely associated with CV mortality (HR 0.63, 95% CI 0.44–0.91, p = 0.013). Associations of CD34+ and CD34+CD133+ with mortality were strongest in participants with pre-existing CVD. PA was associated with CD34+ CPCs only in CVD participants (PA Index: β = 0.176, p = 0.003; moderate-to-vigorous [MVPA]: β = 0.159, p = 0.007). This relationship was maintained after adjustment for confounding variables. 

Conclusions: A higher number of CD34+ and CD34+ CD133+ CPCs was inversely associated with all-cause and CV mortality. These associations were strongest in participants with CVD. PA is independently associated with CD34+ CPCs in individuals with CVD only, suggestive of greater benefit for this population group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-115
Number of pages8
Early online date9 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Endothelium
  • Mortality
  • Physical activity
  • Progenitor cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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