BACKGROUND: Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation following arterial injury plays a critical role in a variety of vascular proliferative disorders, including atherosclerosis and restenosis after balloon angioplasty. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that localized arterial infection at the time of balloon angioplasty with an adenovirus (ADV-tk) encoding the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene (HSV-tk), followed by systemic ganciclovir administration, can inhibit VSMC proliferation and neointima formation in a well-characterized model of arterial injury and restenosis. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The left carotid arteries of 31 male Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to balloon angioplasty and immediately infected with 2 x 10(9) pfu of either ADV-tk or a control adenovirus that does not encode a recombinant protein (ADV-delta E1). Twenty-four hours after injury, animals from each experimental group were randomized to receive a course of systemic ganciclovir (ADV-tk/+GC, ADV delta E1/+GC) or saline (ADV-tk/-GC, ADV-delta E1/-GC). VSMC DNA synthesis was measured by 5'-bromodeoxuridine (BrdU) incorporation 2-4 days after balloon injury. The extent of restenosis, expressed as the neointima to media (I/M) area ratio was determined by digital planimetry 20 days after balloon injury in each of the four treatment groups. Immunohistochemistry using a mAb to von Willebrand factor (vWF) was used to determine the effects of ADV-tk infection and ganciclovir treatment on re-endothelialization of the carotid arteries 20 days following balloon angioplasty. RESULTS: Forty-one percent of the medial VSMCs in the ADV-tk/-GC arteries were labeled with BrdU 4 days after balloon injury. In contrast, ADV-tk infected animals that were treated with systemic ganciclovir (ADV-tk/+GC) displayed a 40% reduction in BrdU-staining medial VSMCs (p <0.03). I/M area ratios of the three control groups were 1.17 +/- 0.18 (ADV-tk/-GC, n = 5), 1.15 +/- 0.10 (ADV-delta E1/+GC, n = 6), and 0.91 +/- 0.08 (ADV-delta E1/-GC, n = 6). These differences were not statistically significant (p > 0.05). In contrast, the ADV-tk/+GC animals (n = 6) displayed an I/M area ratio of 0.49 +/- 0.13 which was significantly lower than that seen in each of the three control groups (p <0.02). None of the treated animals showed evidence of significant organ toxicity at autopsy. A regenerated endothelium was observed in the ADV-tk/+GC animals 20 days after balloon injury. CONCLUSIONS: Localized arterial infection with ADV-tk at the time of balloon angioplasty followed by systemic ganciclovir therapy reduces VSMC proliferation and neointimal expansion in the rat carotid artery injury model. Moreover, combined treatment with ADV-tk and systemic ganciclovir does not result in systemic toxicity and appears to selectively eliminate proliferating VSMCs, while preserving the capacity of the injured arterial segments to re-endothelialize within 3 weeks of injury. Taken together, these results support the feasibility of using this gene therapy approach for the treatment of human vascular proliferative disorders.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|State||Published - Jan 1995|
ASJC Scopus subject areas