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J Vasc Surg. 2018 Dec;68(6S):165S-176S.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2018.03.436. Epub 2018 Jun 15.

Clinical factors that influence the cellular responses of saphenous veins used for arterial bypass.

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Division of Vascular Surgery, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Wash; Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.
Department of Vascular Surgery, Asahikawa Medical University, Asahikawa, Japan.
Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.
Matrix Biology Program, Benaroya Research Institute, Seattle, Wash.
Division of Vascular Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash. Electronic address:



When an autogenous vein is harvested and used for arterial bypass, it suffers physical and biologic injuries that may set in motion the cellular processes that lead to wall thickening, fibrosis, stenosis, and ultimately graft failure. Whereas the injurious effects of surgical preparation of the vein conduit have been extensively studied, little is known about the influence of the clinical environment of the donor leg from which the vein is obtained.


We studied the cellular responses of fresh saphenous vein samples obtained before implantation in 46 patients undergoing elective lower extremity bypass surgery. Using an ex vivo model of response to injury, we quantified the outgrowth of cells from explants of the adventitial and medial layers of the vein. We correlated this cellular outgrowth with the clinical characteristics of the patients, including the Wound, Ischemia, and foot Infection classification of the donor leg for ischemia, wounds, and infection as well as smoking and diabetes.


Cellular outgrowth was significantly faster and more robust from the adventitial layer than from the medial layer. The factors of leg ischemia (P < .001), smoking (P = .042), and leg infection (P = .045) were associated with impaired overall outgrowth from the adventitial tissue on multivariable analysis. Only ischemia (P = .046) was associated with impaired outgrowth of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) from the medial tissue. Co-culture of adventitial cells and SMCs propagated from vein explants revealed that adventitial cells significantly inhibited the growth of SMCs, whereas SMCs promoted the growth of adventitial cells. The AA genotype of the -838C>A p27 polymorphism (previously associated with superior graft patency) enhanced these effects, whereas the factor of smoking attenuated adventitial cell inhibition of SMC growth. Comparing gene expression, the cells cultured from the media overexpress Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathways associated with inflammation and infection, whereas those from the adventitia overexpress gene families associated with development and stem/progenitor cell maintenance.


The adverse clinical environment of the leg may influence the biologic behavior of the cells in the vein wall, especially the adventitial cells. Chronic ischemia was the most significant factor that retards adventitial cell outgrowth. The cells arising from the vein adventitia may be key players in determining a healthy adaptive or a pathologic response to the injuries associated with vein grafting.


Adventitial; Co-culture; Ischemia; Saphenous vein; Smoking; Smooth muscle cell; Stenosis

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[Available on 2019-12-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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