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Surgery. 1999 Aug;126(2):428-37.

Macrophage depletion alters vein graft intimal hyperplasia.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, Madison, USA.



The principal cause of vein graft failure is intimal hyperplasia (IH); however, its etiology remains unclear. In a rat model of vein graft IH we have observed prolonged transmural macrophage infiltration, leading us to hypothesize that these cells regulate IH. To test this, we used liposome-encapsulated dichloromethylene bisphosphonate (L-Cl2MBP) to deplete rat macrophages and observed the effects on IH.


Epigastric vein-to-femoral artery grafts were microsurgically placed in male Lewis rats that had been intravenously injected with L-Cl2MBP, phosphate-buffered saline solution liposomes, or phosphate-buffered saline solution alone 2 days before surgery. Several animals in each group received a second equivalent dose at 2 weeks. Grafts, contralateral epigastric veins, spleens, and livers were harvested at 1, 2, and 4 weeks for histologic examination, immunohistochemistry, and transmission electron microscopy.


In the L-Cl2MBP-treated animals splenic and hepatic macrophages were greatly reduced, confirming the efficacy of the agent. At 1 to 2 weeks graft macrophages were significantly decreased, and there was a trend toward decreased IH. At 4 weeks macrophage numbers were normal and IH development had resumed. In contrast, the 4-week grafts treated with 2 doses of L-Cl2MBP had fewer macrophages and displayed severely attenuated IH.


The results indicate a suppression of IH as macrophages are depleted, with a resumption of the process as macrophages repopulate the graft.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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