[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of visual loss in individuals under the age of 55. Umbilical cord blood (UCB)-derived myeloid progenitor cells have been shown to decrease neuronal damage associated with ischemia in the central nervous system. In this study we show that UCB-derived CD14(+) progenitor cells provide rescue effects in a mouse model of ischemic retinopathy by promoting physiological angiogenesis and reducing associated inflammation. We use confocal microscopy to trace the fate of injected human UCB-derived CD14(+) cells and PCR with species-specific probes to investigate their gene expression profile before and after injection. Metabolomic analysis measures changes induced by CD14(+) cells. Our results demonstrate that human cells differentiate in vivo into M2 macrophages and induce the polarization of resident M2 macrophages. This leads to stabilization of the ischemia-injured retinal vasculature by modulating the inflammatory response, reducing oxidative stress and apoptosis and promoting tissue repair.