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Circulation. 2004 Sep 21;110(12):1650-7. Epub 2004 Sep 13.

Suppression of acute and chronic rejection by hepatocyte growth factor in a murine model of cardiac transplantation: induction of tolerance and prevention of cardiac allograft vasculopathy.

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Department of Surgery, Shinshu University School of Medicine, Matsumoto, Japan.



Although treatment with immunosuppressive agents has contributed to overcoming acute rejection and improving the midterm survival of transplanted hearts, cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) has remained the main cause of primary graft failure. Recent approaches have shown that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) exhibits cardiotrophic functions. We therefore addressed whether HGF would regulate acute and chronic rejection in cardiac transplantation.


We used a murine heterotopic cardiac transplantation model between fully incompatible strains and administered 500 microg x kg(-1) x d(-1) HGF during the initial 14 days after transplantation. The HGF-treated allografts showed significantly prolonged survival (42.3+/-4.1 days, P<0.001) compared with the controls (11.1+/-0.6 days), with tolerance induction in 47.4%. Histopathologically, the number of infiltrating cells was significantly decreased and myocardial necrosis was less prominent with a reduction of apoptosis in the allografts by HGF treatment during acute rejection. In the long-term surviving allografts, HGF significantly inhibited the development of CAV and interstitial fibrosis. With respect to intragraft cytokine mRNA expression, HGF treatment reduced the early expression of interferon-gamma and enhanced the expression of transforming growth factor-beta1 during the acute phase and of interleukin-10 continuously through the acute phase to the chronic phase.


Our findings demonstrate that HGF can prolong the survival of allografts by its cardioprotective and immunomodulative potencies. Thus, HGF administration may constitute a new therapeutic approach to preventing cardiac graft failure that has not been overcome by conventional immunosuppressive agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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