The perfect in vitro model to study and assess treatments for atherosclerosis and neointimal hyperplasia does not exists. An extensive body of literature describing effects of laminar shear stress on endothelial cells has contributed to our understanding of the interactions between shear stress and blood vessels. Laminar shear stress is atheroprotective, whereas oscillatory or disturbed shear stress correlates with areas of atherosclerosis and neointimal hyperplasia in vivo. This study describes the orbital shear stress model, its effects on endothelial cell proliferation and apoptosis, and suggests that activation of the intracellular Akt pathway is associated with these differing effects of laminar and orbital shear stress on endothelial cells.
Ephrin ligands and Eph receptors are signaling molecules that are differentially expressed on arteries and veins during development. We examined whether Eph-B4, a venous marker, and Ephrin-B2, an arterial marker, are regulated during vein graft adaptation in humans and aged rats.
Methods and Results—
Eph-B4 transcripts and immunodetectable protein are downregulated in endothelial and smooth muscle cells of patent vein grafts in both humans and in aged rats, whereas Ephrin-B2 transcripts and protein are not strongly induced. Other markers of arterial identity, including dll4 and notch-4, are also not induced during vein graft adaptation in aged rats. Because VEGF-A is upstream of the Ephrin–Eph pathway, and expression of VEGF-A is induced only at early time points after exposure of the vein to the arterial environment, we inhibited VEGF-A in vein grafts using an siRNA-based approach. Vein grafts treated with siRNA directed against VEGF-A demonstrated a thicker intima-media containing α-actin, consistent with arterialization, but did not contain Eph-B4 or Ephrin-B2.
Venous identity is preserved in the veins of aged animals, but is lost during adaptation to the arterial circulation; arterial markers are not induced. Markers of vessel identity are plastic in adults and their selective regulation may mediate vein graft adaptation to the arterial environment in aged animals and humans.
Vascular smooth muscle cells exhibit varied responses after vessel injury and surgical interventions, including phenotypic switching, migration, proliferation, protein synthesis, and apoptosis. Although the source of the smooth muscle cells that accumulate in the vascular wall is controversial, possibly reflecting migration from the adventitia, from the circulating blood, or in situ differentiation, the intracellular signal transduction pathways that control these processes are being defined. Some of these pathways include the Ras-mitogen-activated protein kinase, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-Akt, Rho, death receptor-caspase, and nitric oxide pathways. Signal transduction pathways provide amplification, redundancy, and control points within the cell and culminate in biologic responses. We review some of the signaling pathways activated within smooth muscle cells that contribute to smooth muscle cell heterogeneity and development of pathology such as restenosis and neointimal hyperplasia.
Orbital shear stress directly stimulates SMC proliferation in long-term culture in vitro and is mediated, at least partially, by the ERK1/2 pathway. The ERK1/2 pathway may also mediate the orbital shear-stress-stimulated switch from SMC contractile to synthetic phenotype. These results suggest that shear-stress-stimulated SMC proliferation after vascular injury is mediated by a pathway amenable to pharmacologic manipulation.
Suprarenal aortic cross-clamp without performing renal hypothermia is safe and able to be tolerated well by the patient during elective AAA surgery, although careful attention must be paid to limiting the period of renal ischemia.
Both neointimal hyperplasia and inward remodeling contribute to restenosis and lumen loss. Nogo-B has been recently described as an inhibitor of vascular injury and neointimal hyperplasia. To determine whether Nogo-B expression may be a mediator of inward remodeling, we examine the localization of expression of Nogo-B in an in vivo model that examines both neointimal hyperplasia and inward remodeling. The rabbit carotid artery was subjected to balloon injury, outflow branch ligation to reduce flow, or both balloon injury and reduction in flow. In balloon injury-induced neointimal hyperplasia Nogo-B expression was reduced in the intima and media but stimulated in the adventitia. In low flow-induced inward remodeling medial Nogo-B expression was not reduced and adventitial Nogo-B expression was not stimulated. Low flow significantly augmented balloon injury-induced neointimal hyperplasia and was accompanied by reduced intimal and medial Nogo-B expression, and increased adventitial Nogo-B expression in both smooth muscle cells and macrophages. Low flow-induced inward remodeling is not associated with changes in medial Nogo-B expression and is distinct from injury-induced neointimal hyperplasia. Pharmacological strategies to inhibit neointimal hyperplasia and restenosis using normal flow models may only partially account for lumen loss and therefore may not accurately predict responses in patients with extensive outflow disease.
Small-caliber, long-fibril ePTFE vascular grafts with covalent bonding of fibronectin achieved almost complete neointimal healing by the time of retrieval at 12 weeks. This indicates that, with further modifications, our new technique for covalent bonding of fibronectin has great potential in the development of small-caliber arterial prosthetic grafts.
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