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Circulation. 2004 Apr 13;109(14):1769-75. Epub 2004 Apr 5.

Enhanced inhibition of neointimal hyperplasia by genetically engineered endothelial progenitor cells.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass 02115, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have been reported previously. In this study, we examined the hypothesis that overexpression of vasculoprotective gene endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in EPCs enhances their ability to inhibit neointimal hyperplasia.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

EPCs were isolated from rabbit peripheral blood, expanded in culture, and transduced with pseudotyped retroviral vectors expressing human eNOS (eNOS-EPCs), HO-1 (HO-1-EPCs), or green fluorescent protein (GFP-EPCs). Transduction efficiency of EPCs ex vivo was >90%. Four groups of rabbits (n=5 to 6 per group) were subjected to balloon angioplasty of the common carotid artery. Immediately after injury, approximately 5x10(6) autologous eNOS-EPCs or HO-1-EPCs were transplanted into the injured vessel. Control animals received an equivalent number of GFP-EPCs or Ringer's saline. Two weeks after transplantation, eNOS and HO-1 transgene transcripts and proteins were detected in the transduced rabbit vessels. Endothelialization was enhanced in the EPC-transplanted vessels independently of gene transfer. Neointimal thickening was significantly reduced in the GFP-EPC-treated vessels relative to the saline control. Neointima size was further reduced in vessels treated with eNOS-EPCs. Surprisingly, no additional reduction was seen in vessels treated with HO-1-EPCs relative to GFP-EPCs. Thrombosis occurred in approximately 50% of the saline-treated vessels but was virtually absent in all EPC-transplanted vessels.

CONCLUSIONS:

We conclude that transplantation of autologous EPCs overexpressing eNOS in injured vessels enhances the vasculoprotective properties of the reconstituted endothelium, leading to inhibition of neointimal hyperplasia. This cell-based gene therapy strategy may be useful in treatment of vascular disease.

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