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Immunol Rev. 1993 Aug;134:5-19.

Chronic rejection in experimental cardiac transplantation: studies in the Lewis-F344 model.

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Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA.


Despite recognition of chronic vascular injection by numerous investigators since the beginning of experimental and solid organ transplantation, the pathogenesis of graft arteriosclerosis remains poorly understood. We have defined a reproducible model of this disease by transplanting heterotopic cardiac grafts across minor histocompatibility barriers using inbred strains of rat. We found that long-term surviving Lewis grafts in untreated F344 recipients are subjected to a chronic rejection process which results in the development of diffuse graft arteriosclerotic lesions, indistinguishable in appearance from those seen in human cardiac grafts. Immunohistochemical studies confirm that end-stage lesions are similar in composition to human lesions, made up predominantly of vascular smooth muscle cells with occasional monocytes and T cells. Analysis of serial rejecting allografts demonstrates that a distinct inflammatory stage precedes smooth muscle cell accumulation in areas of intimal thickening, suggesting that mononuclear cells play a role in the developing lesion. Endothelial expression of class II and ICAM-1 appears to lead to early mononuclear cell adherence to the endothelium. Analysis using quantitative RT-PCR confirms that MCP-1 is expressed by ED1-positive monocyte/macrophages in rejecting cardiac grafts, suggesting that this chemoattractant may help drive mononuclear cell accumulation in the expanding intima. Immunohistochemical labelling of PDGF, TNF, and IL-1 in vascular lesions suggests that these growth factors may trigger intimal vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation in chronically rejecting allografts. Hypercholesterolemia did not enhance the severity of lesion development in long-term surviving allografts, suggesting that lipid levels are not a major etiologic factor in graft arteriosclerotic lesion formation in the Lewis-F344 model. Finally, the dietary manipulation of EFAD reduced graft infiltration by mononuclear cells and markedly diminished arterial lesion development in chronically rejecting grafts. Heparin anologues have previously been shown to inhibit proliferative vascular smooth muscle cell lesions in rats following endothelial injury (Clowes & Karnovsky 1977), and we are currently assessing the role of heparin in the therapy of graft arteriosclerosis in the Lewis-F344 model. We are also investigating the role of CD4-positive mononuclear cells in the pathogenesis of lesion development, using the anti-CD4 monoclonal antibody BWH-4 to deplete recipients of CD4-positive cells (Sayegh et al. 1991). In summary, our studies in the Lewis-F344 model suggest that monocyte/macrophages play an important role in the pathogenesis of cardiac graft arteriosclerosis. Future studies utilizing this model should help further elucidate the mechanisms resulting in--and help define potential therapies for--chronic rejection in cardiac transplantation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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