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1.  Donor and recipient cell surface CSF-1 promote neointimal formation in transplant-associated arteriosclerosis 
Transplant-associated arteriosclerosis (TA) manifests as progressive vascular neointimal expansion throughout the arterial system of allografted solid organs, and eventually compromises graft perfusion and function. Allografts placed in colony stimulating factor (CSF)-1-deficient osteopetrotic (Csf1op/Csf1op) mice develop very little neointima, a finding attributed to impaired recipient macrophage function. We examined how CSF-1 affects neointima-derived vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), tested the significance of CSF-1 expressed in donor tissue, and evaluated the contribution of secreted (sec) vs. cell surface (cs) CSF-1 isoforms in TA.
Methods and Results
CSF-1 activated specific signaling pathways to promote migration, survival, and proliferation of cultured VSMCs. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) addition increased CSF-1 and CSF-1 receptor expression, and TNF-α-driven proliferation was blocked by anti-CSF-1 antibody. In a mouse vascular allograft model, lack of recipient or donor CSF-1 impaired neointima formation; the latter suggests local CSF-1 function within the allograft. Moreover, reconstitution of donor or recipient csCSF-1, without secCSF-1, restored neointimal formation.
VSMC activation, including that mediated by TNF-α, can be driven in an autocrine/juxtacrine manner by CSF-1. These studies provide evidence for local function of CSF-1 in neointimal expansion, and identify CSF-1 signaling in VSMCs, particularly csCSF-1 signaling, as a target for therapeutic strategies in TA.
PMCID: PMC3524392  PMID: 23117661
allograft; arteriosclerosis; vasculopathy; chronic rejection; M-CSF
2.  Tolerance induction ameliorates allograft vasculopathy in rat aortic transplants. Influence of Fas-mediated apoptosis. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1998;101(12):2889-2899.
Based on successful induction of donor-specific unresponsiveness by alloantigenic stimulation in several animal models of acute rejection, we hypothesized that similar immune manipulations would also inhibit the evolution of chronic rejection and transplant vasculopathy. To induce immune tolerance, DA rats received a PVG heart allograft and were immunosuppressed with cyclosporine for 30 d. At day 100 the animals were challenged with a PVG aortic allograft after either 1 or 18 h of cold ischemia. 8 wk after the aortic transplantation, the grafts were investigated for morphological changes, infiltrating cells, apoptosis, and Fas-Fas ligand expression. Control allografts showed advanced transplant arteriosclerosis, whereas tolerance-induced aortic allografts displayed reduced neointimal formation, less medial atrophy, fewer apoptotic cells, and fewer Fas- and FasL-expressing cells. Prolonged ischemic storage time did not profoundly alter the morphological changes of the allografts. Fas expression was found in T cells, macrophages, vascular smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells, whereas FasL was expressed mainly by T cells and macrophages. FasL mRNA expression was evident throughout the entire allograft wall. In conclusion, induction of allospecific tolerance can effectively prevent transplant arteriosclerosis. Cold ischemia damage does not abrogate the beneficial effect of tolerance, but creates a separate identity of mainly endothelial lesions. Furthermore, Fas-mediated apoptosis appears to be involved in the pathological lesions seen in chronic rejection.
PMCID: PMC508881  PMID: 9637724
3.  MicroRNA-30 inhibits neointimal hyperplasia by targeting Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IIδ (CaMKIIδ) 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:26166.
The multifunctional Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II δ-isoform (CaMKIIδ) promotes vascular smooth muscle (VSM) proliferation, migration, and injury-induced vascular wall neointima formation. The objective of this study was to test if microRNA-30 (miR-30) family members are endogenous regulators of CaMKIIδ expression following vascular injury and whether ectopic expression of miR-30 can inhibit CaMKIIδ-dependent VSM cell function and neointimal VSM hyperplasia induced by vascular injury. The CaMKIIδ 3′UTR contains a consensus miR-30 binding sequence that is highly conserved across species. A significant decrease in miR-30 family members and increase in CaMKIIδ2 protein expression, with no change in CaMKIIδ mRNA expression, was observed in medial layers of VSM 7 days post-injury. In vitro, overexpression of miR-30c or miR-30e inhibited CaMKIIδ2 protein expression by ~50% in cultured rat aortic VSM cells, and inhibited VSM cell proliferation and migration. In vivo, lenti-viral delivery of miR-30c into injured rat carotid arteries prevented the injury-induced increase in CaMKIIδ2. Furthermore, neointima formation was dramatically inhibited by lenti-viral delivery of miR-30c in the injured medial smooth muscle. These studies define a novel mechanism for regulating CaMKIIδ expression in VSM and provide a new potential therapeutic strategy to reduce progression of vascular proliferative diseases, including atherosclerosis and restenosis.
PMCID: PMC4873751  PMID: 27199283
4.  Identification of Platelet-Derived Growth Factor D in Human Chronic Allograft Nephropathy 
Human pathology  2008;39(3):393-402.
Chronic allograft nephropathy, a descriptive term denoting chronic scarring injury of the renal parenchyma and vasculature in allograft kidneys arising from various etiologies including chronic rejection, is the most common cause of late allograft failure, but mediators of this progressive injury largely remain unknown. We hypothesized that platelet-derived growth factor D (PDGF-D) and its specific receptor PDGF-Rβ may be an important mediator in the pathogenesis of chronic allograft nephropathy, and hence sought to identify its expression in this setting. Allograft nephrectomies demonstrating chronic allograft nephropathy, obtained from patients with irreversible transplant kidney failure (n = 15) were compared with renal tissues without prominent histopathological abnormalities (n=18) and a series of renal allograft biopsies demonstrating acute vascular rejection (n=12). Antibodies to PDGF-D and PDGF-Rβ were used for immunohistochemistry. Double and triple immunohistochemistry was used to identify cell types expressing PDGF-D. PDGF-D was widely expressed in most neointimas in arteries exhibiting the chronic arteriopathy of chronic allograft nephropathy, and only weakly expressed in a small proportion of sclerotic arteries in the other two groups. Double and triple immunolabeling demonstrated that the neointimal cells expressing PDGF-D were α-smooth muscle actin expressing cells, but not infiltrating macrophages or endothelial cells. PDGF-Rβ expression evaluated in serial sections was localized to the same sites where neointimal PDGF-D was expressed. PDGF-Rβ was expressed in interstitial cells more abundantly in the chronic allograft nephropathy, group compared with the normal and acute vascular rejection groups, without demonstrable co-localization of PDGF-D. PDGF-D is present in the neointima of the arteriopathy of chronic allograft nephropathy, where it can engage PDGF-Rβ to promote mesenchymal cell migration, proliferation and neointima formation. PDGF-D may engage the PDGF-Rβ to promote interstitial injury in chronic allograft injury, but its sources within the interstitium were unidentified.
PMCID: PMC2703673  PMID: 18187181
PDGF-D; transplantation; allograft; nephropathy
5.  Cytomegalovirus infection enhances smooth muscle cell proliferation and intimal thickening of rat aortic allografts. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1993;92(2):549-558.
Inbred DA (AG-B4, RT1a) and WF (AG-B2, RT1v) rats were used as donors and recipients of aortic allografts. The recipient rats were inoculated i.p. either on day 1 (early infection) or on day 60 (late infection) with 10(5) plaque-forming units of rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV). The control rats were left noninfected. The presence of viral infection was demonstrated by plaque assays from biopsies of the salivary glands, liver, and spleen at sacrifice. The rats received 300 microCi[3H]thymidine by i.v. injection 3 h before sacrifice, and the grafts were removed at various time points for histology, immunohistochemistry, and autoradiography. RCMV infection significantly enhanced the generation of allograft arteriosclerosis. Infection at the time of transplantation had two important effects. First, the infection was associated with an early, prominent inflammatory episode and proliferation of inflammatory cells in the allograft adventitia. Second, the viral infection doubled the proliferation rate of smooth muscle cells and the arteriosclerotic alterations in the intima. In late infection the impact of RCMV infection on the allograft histology was nearly nonexistent. RCMV infection showed no effect in syngeneic grafts. These results suggest that early infection is more important to the generation of accelerated allograft arteriosclerosis than late infection, and that an acute alloimmune response must be associated with virus infection, to induce accelerated allograft arteriosclerosis. RCMV-infected aortic allografts, as described here, provide the first experimental model to investigate the interaction between the virus and the vascular wall of the transplant.
PMCID: PMC294886  PMID: 8394384
6.  A reproducible mouse model of chronic allograft nephropathy with vasculopathy 
Kidney international  2012;82(11):1231-1235.
While short-term outcomes in kidney transplantation have improved dramatically, long-term survival remains a major challenge. A key component of long-term, chronic allograft injury in solid organ transplants is arteriosclerosis characterized by vascular neointimal hyperplasia and inflammation. Establishing a model of this disorder would provide a unique tool, not only to identify mechanisms of disease, but also test potential therapeutics for late graft injury. To this end, we utilized a mouse orthotopic renal transplant model in which C57BL/6J (H-2b) recipients were given either a kidney allograft from a completely mismatched Balb/cJ mouse (H-2d), or an isograft from a littermate. A unilateral nephrectomy was performed at the time of transplant followed by a contralateral nephrectomy on post-transplant day seven. Recipients were treated with daily cyclosporine subcutaneously for 14 days and then studied 8 and 12 weeks post transplantation. Renal function was significantly worse in allograft compared to isograft recipients. Moreover, the allografts had significantly more advanced tubulointerstitial fibrosis and profound vascular disease characterized by perivascular leukocytic infiltration and neointimal hyperplasia affecting the intrarenal blood vessels. Thus, we describe a feasible and reproducible murine model of intrarenal transplant arteriosclerosis useful to study allograft vasculopathy.
PMCID: PMC3495090  PMID: 22874842
7.  PDZK1 Prevents Neointima Formation via Suppression of Breakpoint Cluster Region Kinase in Vascular Smooth Muscle 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0124494.
Scavenger receptor class B, type I (SR-BI) and its adaptor protein PDZK1 mediate responses to HDL cholesterol in endothelium. Whether the receptor-adaptor protein tandem serves functions in other vascular cell types is unknown. The current work determined the roles of SR-BI and PDZK1 in vascular smooth muscle (VSM). To evaluate possible VSM functions of SR-BI and PDZK1 in vivo, neointima formation was assessed 21 days post-ligation in the carotid arteries of wild-type, SR-BI-/- or PDZK1-/- mice. Whereas neointima development was negligible in wild-type and SR-BI-/-, there was marked neointima formation in PDZK1-/- mice. PDZK1 expression was demonstrated in primary mouse VSM cells, and compared to wild-type cells, PDZK1-/- VSM displayed exaggerated proliferation and migration in response to platelet derived growth factor (PDGF). Tandem affinity purification-mass spectrometry revealed that PDZK1 interacts with breakpoint cluster region kinase (Bcr), which contains a C-terminal PDZ binding sequence and is known to enhance responses to PDGF in VSM. PDZK1 interaction with Bcr in VSM was demonstrated by pull-down and by coimmunoprecipitation, and the augmented proliferative response to PDGF in PDZK1-/- VSM was abrogated by Bcr depletion. Furthermore, compared with wild-type Bcr overexpression, the introduction of a Bcr mutant incapable of PDZK1 binding into VSM cells yielded an exaggerated proliferative response to PDGF. Thus, PDZK1 has novel SR-BI-independent function in VSM that affords protection from neointima formation, and this involves PDZK1 suppression of VSM cell proliferation via an inhibitory interaction with Bcr.
PMCID: PMC4401672  PMID: 25886360
8.  S-phase kinase-associated protein-2 (Skp2) promotes vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and neointima formation in vivo 
Journal of Vascular Surgery  2009;50(5-4):1135-1142.
Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation plays an important role in the development of postangioplasty or in-stent restenosis, venous graft failure, and atherosclerosis. Our previous work has demonstrated S-phase kinase-associated protein-2 (Skp2), an F-box subunit of SCFSkp2 ubiquitin ligase, as an important mediator and common final pathway for growth factors, extracellular matrices, and cyclic-nucleotides to regulate VSMC proliferation in vitro. However, whether alteration of Skp2 function also regulates VSMC proliferation in vivo and neointimal thickening postvascular injury remains unclear. We investigated the effect of Skp2 on VSMC proliferation and neointimal formation in vivo.
Methods and Results
Firstly, we demonstrated that Skp2-null mice developed significantly smaller neointimal areas than wild-type mice after carotid ligation. Secondly, to further identify a local rather than a systemic effect of Skp2 alteration, we demonstrated that adenovirus-mediated expression of dominant-negative Skp2 in the balloon-injured rat carotid artery significantly increased medial p27Kip1 levels, inhibited VSMC proliferation, and the subsequent neointimal thickening. Lastly, to determine if Skp2 alone is sufficient to drive VSMC proliferation and lesion development in vivo, we demonstrated that adenovirus-delivery of wild-type Skp2 to the minimally-injured rat carotids is sufficient to downregulate p27Kip1 protein levels, enhanced medial VSMC proliferation, and the neointimal thickening.
This data provides, we believe for the first time, a more comprehensive understanding of Skp2 in the regulation of VSMC proliferation and neointimal formation and suggests that Skp2 is a promising target in the treatment of vasculoproliferative diseases.
Clinical Relevance
This manuscript describes our latest work investigating the role of the Skp2, an F-box protein component of the SCFskp2 ubiquitin-ligase, in promoting VSMC proliferation, and neointima formation in response to vascular injury in vivo. Our previous work has identified a major role for Skp2 as a key target for numerous positive and negative growth regulatory signals in vitro. These signals converge to regulate the expression of Skp2, which then controls cell-cycle progression by promoting degradation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p27Kip1. Until now, there has been no data in the literature on the role played by Skp2 in the regulation of VSMC proliferation and neointima formation in vivo. Our current manuscript describes, we believe for the first time, the important role played by Skp2 in these processes, using both mouse and rat arterial injury models. This is important because proliferation of VSMCs underlies the development of postangioplasty or post-stenting restenosis, venous graft failure, and transplant arteriosclerosis. Our work demonstrates for the first time that Skp2 is a major regulator of VSMC proliferation and neointimal thickening in vivo in response to vascular injury and highlights Skp2 as a potential target for future strategies designed to combat vasculoproliferative diseases.
PMCID: PMC2774860  PMID: 19878790
9.  Contribution of Recipient-Derived Cells in Allograft Neointima Formation and the Response to Stent Implantation 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1894.
Allograft coronary disease is the dominant cause of increased risk of death after cardiac transplantation. While the percutaneous insertion of stents is the most efficacious revascularization strategy for allograft coronary disease there is a high incidence of stent renarrowing. We developed a novel rabbit model of sex-mismatched allograft vascular disease as well as the response to stent implantation. In situ hybridization for the Y-chromosome was employed to detect male cells in the neointima of stented allograft, and the population of recipient derived neointimal cells was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and characterized by immunohistochemistry. To demonstrate the participation of circulatory derived cells in stent neointima formation we infused ex vivo labeled peripheral blood mononuclear cells into native rabbit carotid arteries immediately after stenting. Fourteen days after stenting the neointima area was 58% greater in the stented vs. non-stented allograft segments (p = 0.02). Male cells were detected in the neointima of stented female-to-male allografts. Recipient-derived cells constituted 72.1±5.7% and 81.5±4.2% of neointimal cell population in the non-stented and stented segments, respectively and the corresponding proliferation rates were only 2.7±0.5% and 2.3±0.2%. Some of the recipient-derived neointimal cells were of endothelial lineage. The ex vivo tagged cells constituted 9.0±0.4% of the cells per high power field in the stent neointima 14 days after stenting. These experiments provide important quantitative data regarding the degree to which host-derived blood-borne cells contribute to neointima formation in allograft vasculopathy and the early response to stent implantation.
PMCID: PMC2267220  PMID: 18365026
10.  Donor MHC and adhesion molecules in transplant arteriosclerosis 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1999;103(4):469-474.
Transplant-associated arteriosclerosis remains an obstacle to long-term graft survival. To determine the contribution to transplant arteriosclerosis of MHC and adhesion molecules from cells of the donor vasculature, we allografted carotid artery loops from six mutant mouse strains into immunocompetent CBA/CaJ recipients. The donor mice were deficient in either MHC I molecules or MHC II molecules, both MHC I and MHC II molecules, the adhesion molecule P-selectin, intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1, or both P-selectin and ICAM-1. Donor arteries in which ICAM-1, MHC II, or both MHC I and MHC II were absent showed reductions in neointima formation of 52%, 33%, and 38%, respectively, due primarily to a reduction in smooth muscle cell (SMC) accumulation. In P-selectin–deficient donor arteries, neointima formation did not differ from that in controls. In donor arteries lacking both P-selectin and ICAM-1, the size of the neointima was similar to that in those lacking ICAM-1 alone. In contrast, neointima formation increased by 52% in MHC I–deficient donor arteries. The number of CD4-positive T cells increased by 2.8-fold in MHC I–deficient arteries, and that of α-actin–positive SMCs by twofold. These observations indicate that ICAM-1 and MHC II molecules expressed in the donor vessel wall may promote transplant-associated arteriosclerosis. MHC I molecules expressed in the donor may have a protective effect.
PMCID: PMC408097  PMID: 10021454
11.  Reduced transplant arteriosclerosis in plasminogen-deficient mice. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1998;102(10):1788-1797.
Recent gene targeting studies indicate that the plasminogen system is implicated in cell migration and matrix degradation during arterial neointima formation and atherosclerotic aneurysm formation. This study examined whether plasmin proteolysis is involved in accelerated posttransplant arteriosclerosis (graft arterial disease). Donor carotid arteries from wild-type B10.A2R mice were transplanted into either plasminogen wild-type (Plg+/+) or homozygous plasminogen-deficient (Plg-/-) recipient mice with a genetic background of 75% C57BL/6 and 25% 129. Within 15 d after allograft transplantation, leukocytes and macrophages infiltrated the graft intima in Plg+/+ and Plg-/- recipient mice to a similar extent. In Plg+/+ recipients, the elastic laminae in the transplant media exhibited breaks through which macrophages infiltrated before smooth muscle cell proliferation, whereas in Plg-/- recipients, macrophages failed to infiltrate the transplant media which remained structurally more intact. After 45 d of transplantation, a multilayered smooth muscle cell-rich transplant neointima developed in Plg+/+ hosts, in contrast to Plg-/- recipients, in which the transplants contained a smaller intima, predominantly consisting of leukocytes, macrophages, and thrombus. Media necrosis, fragmentation of the elastic laminae, and adventitial remodeling were more pronounced in Plg+/+ than in Plg-/- recipient mice. Expression of the plasminogen activators (PA), urokinase-type PA (u-PA) and tissue-type PA (t-PA), and expression of the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), MMP-3, MMP-9, MMP-12, and MMP-13, were significantly increased within 15 d of transplantation when cells actively migrate. These data indicate that plasmin proteolysis plays a major role in allograft arteriosclerosis by mediating elastin degradation, macrophage infiltration, media remodeling, medial smooth muscle cell migration, and formation of a neointima.
PMCID: PMC509128  PMID: 9819364
12.  Protein Kinase C Inhibitors as Modulators of Vascular Function and Their Application in Vascular Disease 
Pharmaceuticals  2013;6(3):407-439.
Blood pressure (BP) is regulated by multiple neuronal, hormonal, renal and vascular control mechanisms. Changes in signaling mechanisms in the endothelium, vascular smooth muscle (VSM) and extracellular matrix cause alterations in vascular tone and blood vessel remodeling and may lead to persistent increases in vascular resistance and hypertension (HTN). In VSM, activation of surface receptors by vasoconstrictor stimuli causes an increase in intracellular free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), which forms a complex with calmodulin, activates myosin light chain (MLC) kinase and leads to MLC phosphorylation, actin-myosin interaction and VSM contraction. Vasoconstrictor agonists could also increase the production of diacylglycerol which activates protein kinase C (PKC). PKC is a family of Ca2+-dependent and Ca2+-independent isozymes that have different distributions in various blood vessels, and undergo translocation from the cytosol to the plasma membrane, cytoskeleton or the nucleus during cell activation. In VSM, PKC translocation to the cell surface may trigger a cascade of biochemical events leading to activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and MAPK kinase (MEK), a pathway that ultimately increases the myofilament force sensitivity to [Ca2+]i, and enhances actin-myosin interaction and VSM contraction. PKC translocation to the nucleus may induce transactivation of various genes and promote VSM growth and proliferation. PKC could also affect endothelium-derived relaxing and contracting factors as well as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in the extracellular matrix further affecting vascular reactivity and remodeling. In addition to vasoactive factors, reactive oxygen species, inflammatory cytokines and other metabolic factors could affect PKC activity. Increased PKC expression and activity have been observed in vascular disease and in certain forms of experimental and human HTN. Targeting of vascular PKC using PKC inhibitors may function in concert with antioxidants, MMP inhibitors and cytokine antagonists to reduce VSM hyperactivity in certain forms of HTN that do not respond to Ca2+ channel blockers.
PMCID: PMC3619439  PMID: 23580870
calcium; endothelium; vascular smooth muscle; hypertension
13.  Protein Kinase C Inhibitors as Modulators of Vascular Function and their Application in Vascular Disease 
Blood pressure (BP) is regulated by multiple neuronal, hormonal, renal and vascular control mechanisms. Changes in signaling mechanisms in the endothelium, vascular smooth muscle (VSM) and extracellular matrix cause alterations in vascular tone and blood vessel remodeling and may lead to persistent increases in vascular resistance and hypertension (HTN). In VSM, activation of surface receptors by vasoconstrictor stimuli causes an increase in intracellular free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), which forms a complex with calmodulin, activates myosin light chain (MLC) kinase and leads to MLC phosphorylation, actin-myosin interaction and VSM contraction. Vasoconstrictor agonists could also increase the production of diacylglycerol which activates protein kinase C (PKC). PKC is a family of Ca2+-dependent and Ca2+-independent isozymes that have different distributions in various blood vessels, and undergo translocation from the cytosol to the plasma membrane, cytoskeleton or the nucleus during cell activation. In VSM, PKC translocation to the cell surface may trigger a cascade of biochemical events leading to activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and MAPK kinase (MEK), a pathway that ultimately increases the myofilament force sensitivity to [Ca2+]i, and enhances actin-myosin interaction and VSM contraction. PKC translocation to the nucleus may induce transactivation of various genes and promote VSM growth and proliferation. PKC could also affect endothelium-derived relaxing and contracting factors as well as matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) in the extracellular matrix further affecting vascular reactivity and remodeling. In addition to vasoactive factors, reactive oxygen species, inflammatory cytokines and other metabolic factors could affect PKC activity. Increased PKC expression and activity have been observed in vascular disease and in certain forms of experimental and human HTN. Targeting of vascular PKC using PKC inhibitors may function in concert with antioxidants, MMP inhibitors and cytokine antagonists to reduce VSM hyperactivity in certain forms of HTN that do not respond to Ca2+ channel blockers.
PMCID: PMC3619439  PMID: 23580870
calcium; endothelium; vascular smooth muscle; hypertension
14.  SOCS1 Prevents Graft Arteriosclerosis by Preserving Endothelial Cell Function 
The aim of this study was to determine the role of Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 1 (SOCS1) in graft arteriosclerosis (GA).
GA, the major cause of late cardiac allograft failure, is initiated by immune-mediated endothelial activation resulting in vascular inflammation and consequent neointima formation. SOCS1, a negative regulator of cytokine signaling, is highly expressed in endothelial cells (ECs) and may prevent endothelial inflammatory responses and phenotypic activation.
Clinical specimens of coronary arteries with GA, atherosclerosis, or without disease were collected for histological analysis. SOCS1 knockout or vascular endothelial SOCS1 transgenic mice (VESOCS1) were used in an aorta transplant model of GA. Mouse aortic ECs were isolated for in vitro assays.
Dramatic but specific reduction of endothelial SOCS1 was observed in human GA and atherosclerosis specimens which suggested the importance of SOCS1 in maintaining normal endothelial function. SOCS1 deletion in mice resulted in basal EC dysfunction. After transplantation, SOCS1-deficient aortic grafts augmented leukocyte recruitment and neointima formation, whereas endothelial overexpression of SOCS1 diminished arterial rejection. Induction of endothelial adhesion molecules in early stages of GA was suppressed by the VESOCS1 transgene and this effect was confirmed in cultured aortic ECs. Moreover, VESOCS1 maintained better vascular function during GA progression. Mechanistically, endothelial SOCS1, by modulating both basal and cytokine-induced expression of the adhesion molecules PECAM-1, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1, restrained leukocyte adhesion and trans-endothelial migration during inflammatory cell infiltration.
SOCS1 prevents GA progression by preserving endothelial function and attenuating cytokine-induced adhesion molecule expression in vascular endothelium.
PMCID: PMC3932325  PMID: 23994402
graft arteriosclerosis; SOCS1; endothelial activation; endothelial adhesion molecule
15.  Adenovirus-Mediated Overexpression of Glutathione-S-Transferase Mitigates Transplant Arteriosclerosis in Rabbit Carotid Allografts1 
Transplantation  2010;89(4):409-416.
Cardiac transplant arteriosclerosis, or cardiac allograft vasculopathy, remains the leading cause of graft failure and patient death in heart transplant recipients. Endothelial cell injury is crucial in the development of human atherosclerosis and may play a role in allograft vasculopathy. Glutathione-S-Transferase (GST) is known to protect endothelial cells from damage by oxidants and toxins. However, the contribution of human glutathione-S-transferase A4-4 (hGSTA4-4) to vascular cell injury and consequent transplant arteriosclerosis is unknown.
A recombinant adenoviral vector containing hGSTA4-4 gene was constructed and delivered to vascular endothelial cells in an in vivo rabbit carotid artery transplant model. Forty five days after transplantation, allografts were harvested (n = 28). Blood flow was measured by ultrasonography. In addition, grafts were analyzed by histology, morphometry, immunostaining and western blot.
The severity of arteriosclerosis in hGSTA4-4 transduced allografts was compared with control by measuring degree of stenosis by neointima. Decrease in blood flow in hGSTA4-4 transduced allografts was significantly less than control allografts, which also developed greater intimal thickening and stenosis than hGSTA4-4 transduced allografts in the proximal and distal regions of the graft. Leukocyte and macrophage infiltration was reduced in hGSTA4-4 transduced carotid arteries.
Our data indicates that hGSTA4-4 overexpression protects the integrity of vessel wall from oxidative injury, and attenuates transplant arteriosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2861492  PMID: 20177342
Glutathione-S-Transferase; allograft; transplant arteriosclerosis; neointima
16.  Transplanted perivascular adipose tissue accelerates injury-induced neointimal hyperplasia: role of MCP-1 
Perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) expands during obesity, is highly inflamed, and correlates with coronary plaque burden and increased cardiovascular risk. We tested the hypothesis that PVAT contributes to the vascular response to wire injury and investigated the underlying mechanisms.
Approach and Results
We transplanted thoracic aortic PVAT from donor mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) to the carotid arteries of recipient HFD-fed LDLR−/− mice. Two weeks after transplantation, wire injury was performed, and animals were sacrificed two weeks later. Immunohistochemistry was performed to quantify adventitial macrophage infiltration and neovascularization, and neointimal lesion composition and size. Transplanted PVAT accelerated neointimal hyperplasia, adventitial macrophage infiltration and adventitial angiogenesis. The majority of neointimal cells in PVAT-transplanted animals expressed α-smooth muscle actin, consistent with smooth muscle phenotype. Deletion of MCP-1 in PVAT substantially attenuated the effects of fat transplantation on neointimal hyperplasia and adventitial angiogenesis, but not adventitial macrophage infiltration. Conditioned medium from perivascular adipocytes induced potent monocyte chemotaxis in vitro and angiogenic responses in cultured endothelial cells.
These findings indicate that PVAT contributes to the vascular response to wire injury, in part through MCP-1-dependent mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4103955  PMID: 24947528
Adipose tissue; Neointimal hyperplasia; Adventitial angiogenesis; Vasculopathy
17.  Inducible nitric oxide synthase suppresses the development of allograft arteriosclerosis. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;100(8):2035-2042.
In cardiac transplantation, chronic rejection takes the form of an occlusive vasculopathy. The mechanism underlying this disorder remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role nitric oxide (NO) may play in the development of allograft arteriosclerosis. Rat aortic allografts from ACI donors to Wistar Furth recipients with a strong genetic disparity in both major and minor histocompatibility antigens were used for transplantation. Allografts collected at 28 d were found to have significant increases in both inducible NO synthase (iNOS) mRNA and protein as well as in intimal thickness when compared with isografts. Inhibiting NO production with an iNOS inhibitor increased the intimal thickening by 57.2%, indicating that NO suppresses the development of allograft arteriosclerosis. Next, we evaluated the effect of cyclosporine (CsA) on iNOS expression and allograft arteriosclerosis. CsA (10 mg/kg/d) suppressed the expression of iNOS in response to balloon-induced aortic injury. Similarly, CsA inhibited iNOS expression in the aortic allografts, associated with a 65% increase in intimal thickening. Finally, we investigated the effect of adenoviral-mediated iNOS gene transfer on allograft arteriosclerosis. Transduction with iNOS using an adenoviral vector suppressed completely the development of allograft arteriosclerosis in both untreated recipients and recipients treated with CsA. These results suggest that the early immune-mediated upregulation in iNOS expression partially protects aortic allografts from the development of allograft arteriosclerosis, and that iNOS gene transfer strategies may prove useful in preventing the development of this otherwise untreatable disease process.
PMCID: PMC508394  PMID: 9329968
18.  CC Chemokine Receptor-1 Activates Intimal Smooth Muscle-like Cells in Graft Arterial Disease 
Circulation  2009;120(18):1800-1813.
Graft arterial disease (GAD) limits long-term solid organ allograft survival. The thickened intima in GAD contains smooth muscle-like cells (SMLC), leukocytes, and extracellular matrix. The intimal SMLC in mouse GAD lesions differ from medial smooth muscle cells in their function and phenotype. While intimal SMLC may originate by migration and modulation of donor medial cells or by recruitment of host-derived precursors, the mechanisms underlying localization within grafts and the factors that drive these processes remain unclear.
Methods and Results
This study of aortic transplantation in mice demonstrated an important function for chemokines beyond their traditional role in leukocyte recruitment and activation. Intimal SMLC, but not medial smooth muscle cells (SMC), express functional CC chemokine receptor-1 (CCR1), and respond to RANTES by increased migration and proliferation. Although RANTES infusion in vivo promotes inflammatory cell accumulation in the adventitia of aortic allografts of wild-type as well as CCR1-deficient recipients, RANTES infusion increases GAD intimal thickening with SMLC proliferation in only the wild-type hosts. Aortic allografts transplanted into CCR1-deficient mice after wild-type bone marrow transplantation did not develop intimal lesions, indicating that CCR-1 bearing inflammatory cells do not contribute to intimal lesion formation. Moreover, RANTES induces SMLC proliferation in vitro, but does not promote medial SMC growth. Blockade of CCR5 attenuates RANTES-induced T cell and monocyte/macrophage proliferation, but does not affect RANTES-induced SMLC proliferation, consistent with a larger role of CCR1-binding chemokines in SMLC migration and proliferation and GAD development.
These studies provide a novel mechanistic insight regarding the formation of vascular intimal hyperplasia and suggest a novel therapeutic strategy for preventing allograft arteriopathy.
PMCID: PMC2996873  PMID: 19841301
chemokine; chemokine receptor; smooth muscle cell; cytokine; chronic rejection; arteriosclerosis; pathogenesis; aortic transplantation; mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)
19.  Prolongation of Cardiac Allograft Survival by a Novel Population of Autologous CD117+ Bone Marrow-Derived Progenitor Cells1 
Autologous CD117+ progenitor cells (PC) have been successfully utilized in myocardial infarction and ischemic injury, potentially through the replacement/repair of damaged vascular endothelium. To date, such cells have not been used to enhance solid organ transplant outcome. In this study, we determined whether autologous bone marrow-derived CD117+PC could benefit cardiac allograft survival, possibly by replacing donor vascular cells. Autologous, positively selected CD117+PC were administered post-transplantation and allografts were assessed for acute rejection. Although significant generation of recipient vascular cell chimerism was not observed, transferred PC disseminated both to the allograft and to peripheral lymphoid tissues and facilitated a significant, dose-dependent prolongation of allograft survival. While CD117+PC dramatically inhibited alloreactive T-cell proliferation in vitro, this property did not differ from non-protective CD117− bone marrow populations. In vivo, CD117+ PC did not significantly inhibit T cell alloreactivity or increase peripheral regulatory T cell numbers. Thus, rather than inhibiting adaptive immunity to the allograft, CD117+ PC may play a cytoprotective role in prolonging graft survival. Importantly, autologous CD117+PC appear to be distinct from bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) previously used to prolong allograft survival. As such, autologous CD117+PC represent a novel cellular therapy for promoting allograft survival.
PMCID: PMC3059253  PMID: 21114653
stem cells; transplantation; acute allograft rejection; tolerance induction
20.  Neutrophil mediated smooth muscle cell loss precedes allograft vasculopathy 
Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (AV) is a pathological process of vascular remodeling leading to late graft loss following cardiac transplantation. While there is consensus that AV is alloimmune mediated, and evidence that the most important alloimmune target is medial smooth muscle cells (SMC), the role of the innate immune response in the initiation of this disease is still being elucidated. As ischemia reperfusion (IR) injury plays a pivotal role in the initiation of AV, we hypothesize that IR enhances the early innate response to cardiac allografts.
Aortic transplants were performed between fully disparate mouse strains (C3H/HeJ and C57BL/6), in the presence of therapeutic levels of Cyclosporine A, as a model for cardiac AV. Neutrophils were depleted from some recipients using anti-PMN serum. Grafts were harvested at 1,2,3,5d and 1,2wk post-transplant. Ultrastructural integrity was examined by transmission electron microscopy. SMC and neutrophils were quantified from histological sections in a blinded manner.
Grafts exposed to cold ischemia, but not transplanted, showed no medial SMC loss and normal ultrastructural integrity. In comparison, allografts harvested 1d post-transplant exhibited > 90% loss of SMC (p < 0.0001). SMC partially recovered by 5d but a second loss of SMC was observed at 1wk. SMC loss at 1d and 1wk post-transplant correlated with neutrophil influx. SMC loss was significantly reduced in neutrophil depleted recipients (p < 0.01).
These novel data show that there is extensive damage to medial SMC at 1d post-transplant. By depleting neutrophils from recipients it was demonstrated that a portion of the SMC loss was mediated by neutrophils. These results provide evidence that IR activation of early innate events contributes to the etiology of AV.
PMCID: PMC2909951  PMID: 20569484
21.  Dendritic cell-lymphoid cell aggregation and major histocompatibility antigen expression during rat cardiac allograft rejection 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1986;164(4):1239-1258.
To determine the pattern of cellular expression of donor MHC class I and class II antigens during the course of rat cardiac allograft rejection, ACI cardiac allografts transplanted to BN recipients were examined from day 2 to day 6 using immunohistologic and immunoelectron microscopic methods. We used both monomorphic and donor-specific mouse anti-rat MHC class I and class II mAbs in this study. In normal ACI hearts, MHC class I reactivity was confined to the vascular endothelium and to interstitial cells. Ongoing rejection was characterized by an increased donor MHC class I staining intensity of microvascular endothelium and induction of donor class I surface reactivity on cardiac myofibers. Donor MHC class II reactivity was exclusively confined to interstitial dendritic cells (IDC) in both normal ACI hearts and in rejecting allografts, although rejection was associated with marked fluctuations in class II IDC frequency. An early numerical depression in class II IDC present in both allografts and syngeneic heart grafts was attributed to a direct effect of the transplantation procedure. By days 3-4, allografts showed an absolute overall increase in donor class II IDC frequency, which was associated with the presence of multiple localized high-density IDC-lymphocyte aggregates. The lymphocytes present in the focal areas were predominantly of the class II-reactive Th cell subpopulation. These aggregates may thus represent the in vivo homologue of dendritic cell-lymphocyte clustering, which has been shown to be required for primary class II allosensitization in the rat and mouse in vitro. During the late phase of rejection, there was a marked numerical fall in donor class II IDC, which correlated with extensive overall graft destruction. This study has shown that acute rat cardiac allograft rejection can occur in the absence of donor MHC class II expression by allograft vascular endothelium and cardiac myofibers. The IDC, which are believed to represent the principal class II alloantigen presenting cells in the rat heart, remain the sole class II-expressing cellular constituents of the graft throughout the course of rejection.
PMCID: PMC2188410  PMID: 3531383
22.  C4d Deposition and Cellular Infiltrates as Markers of Acute Rejection in Rat Models of Orthotopic Lung Transplantation 
Transplantation  2008;86(1):123-129.
C4d is a useful marker of antibody-mediated rejection in cardiac and renal transplants, but clinical studies examining correlations between circulating alloantibodies, C4d deposition, and rejection in lung transplants have yielded conflicting results.
We studied circulating alloantibody levels and C4d deposition in two rat models of lung transplantation: Brown Norway (BN) to Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) and PVG.R8 to PVG.1U lung allografts. The availability of C6 deficient (C6−) and C6 sufficient (C6+) PVG 1U rats allowed evaluation of the effects of the terminal complement components on graft injury and C4d deposition.
The lung allografts had histologic features resembling human posttransplant capillaritis, characterized by neutrophilic infiltration of alveoli, edema, and hemorrhage. Immunoperoxidase stains on cross sections of allografts showed intense, diffuse, C4d deposition in a continuous linear pattern on the vascular endothelium. C4d deposits were found in both BN to WKY and PVG R8 to 1U allografts, whereas no staining was detectable in WKY to WKY isografts or native lungs. Complement deposition was associated with vascular disruption in C6−, but not in C6+ recipients. The presence of circulating donor-specific alloantibodies was verified by flow cytometry. Cell-specific staining revealed perivascular accumulation of macrophages and T lymphocytes whereas neutrophils were sequestered in the intravascular and alveolar capillary compartments.
The deposition of C4d on vascular endothelium as well as the coincident presence of alloantibodies is consistent with previous findings in antibody-mediated rejection of renal and cardiac transplants. Furthermore, the histological features of our allografts support the concept that posttransplant capillaritis is a form of humoral rejection.
PMCID: PMC2659637  PMID: 18622289
Complement; Macrophage; Neutrophil; Lymphocyte; Alloantibody
23.  Chemokines and Transplant Vasculopathy 
Circulation research  2008;103(5):454-466.
Transplant vasculopathy (TV) remains the leading cause of late death among heart transplant recipients. TV is characterized by progressive neointimal proliferation, leading to ischemic failure of the allograft. Multiple experimental and clinical studies have shown that injury to the graft at various stages of transplantation can be a risk factor for development of TV. The hallmark of cardiac allograft injury is the infiltration of leukocytes. Recruitment of leukocytes requires intercellular communication between infiltrating cells, endothelium, parenchymal cells, and components of extra-cellular matrix. These events are mediated via the generation of adhesion molecules, cytokines, and chemokines. The chemokines, by virtue of their specific cell receptor expression, can selectively mediate the local recruitment/activation of distinct leukocytes/cells, allowing for migration across the endothelium and beyond the vascular compartment. This report will provide a comprehensive review of the chemokines that participate in the development of TV.
PMCID: PMC4214378  PMID: 18757833
Chemokines; Transplant vasculopathy
24.  Potassium Channels in the Peripheral Microcirculation 
Vascular smooth muscle (VSM) cells, endothelial cells (EC), and pericytes that form the walls of vessels in the microcirculation express a diverse array of ion channels that play an important role in the function of these cells and the microcirculation in both health and disease. This brief review focuses on the K+ channels expressed in smooth muscle and endothelial cells in arterioles. Microvascular VSM cells express at least four different classes of K+ channels, including inward-rectifier K+ channels (KIR), ATP-sensitive K+ channels (KATP), voltage-gated K+ channels (KV), and large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels (BKCa). VSM KIR participate in dilation induced by elevated extracellular K+ and may also be activated by C-type natriuretic peptide, a putative endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF). Vasodilators acting through cAMP or cGMP signaling pathways in VSM may open KATP, KV, and BKCa, causing membrane hyperpolarization and vasodilation. VSM BKCa may also be activated by epoxides of arachidonic acid (EETs) identified as EDHF in some systems. Conversely, vasoconstrictors may close KATP, KV, and BKCa through protein kinase C, Rhokinase, or c-Src pathways and contribute to VSM depolarization and vasoconstriction. At the same time KV and BKCa act in a negative feedback manner to limit depolarization and prevent vasospasm. Microvascular EC express at least 5 classes of K+ channels, including small (sKCa) and intermediate (IKCa) conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels, KIR, KATP, and KV. Both sK and IK are opened by endothelium-dependent vasodilators that increase EC intracellular Ca2+ to cause membrane hyperpolarization that may be conducted through myoendothelial gap junctions to hyperpolarize and relax arteriolar VSM. KIR may serve to amplify sKCa- and IKCa-induced hyperpolarization and allow active transmission of hyperpolarization along EC through gap junctions. EC KIR channels may also be opened by elevated extracellular K+ and participate in K+-induced vasodilation. EC KATP channels may be activated by vasodilators as in VSM. KV channels may provide a negative feedback mechanism to limit depolarization in some endothelial cells.
PMCID: PMC1405752  PMID: 15804979
arterioles; endothelium; ion channels; microcirculation; vascular smooth muscle; vasoconstriction; vasodilation
Transplantation  1997;64(5):690-695.
Aortic allotransplantation in mice has been well established as a model of choice to study the evolvement of chronic rejection, the etiopathology of which is believed to be that of immune origin. This has prompted the postulation that prior induction of donor-specific tolerance would attenuate or abrogate the underlying events that culminate in posttransplant arteriosclerosis. To study the effects of donor-specific tolerance on chronic rejection, we performed orthotopic liver transplantation without immunosuppression in mice 30 days before aortic allotransplantation across C57Bl/10J (H2b)→C3H (H2k) strain combinations (group III. Aortic allografting in syngeneic (group I; C3H→C3H) and allogeneic (group II, C57Bl/10J→C3H) animals served as controls. No morphological changes were evidenced in the transplanted aortas in group I animals. Contrarily, aortic allografts in group II animals underwent a self-limiting acute cellular rejection, which resolved completely and was succeeded by day 30 after transplantation by histopathological changes pathognomonic of chronic rejection. There was evidence for diffuse myointimal thickening, progressive concentric luminal narrowing, and patchy destruction of internal elastic membranes resulting in massive vascular obliteration by day 120 after transplantation. It was of interest that no arteriosclerotic changes were observed for the duration of follow-up (up to 120 days after transplantation) in transplanted aortas (liver donor-type) harvested from animals in group III. However, vasculopathy was prominent in third-party aortic grafts transplanted into tolerant recipients. Taken together, these data suggest that prior induction of tolerance abrogates the development of chronic rejection; this protection seems to be donor specific.
PMCID: PMC2957293  PMID: 9311704

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