Research Article

Apoptosis, proliferation, and morphology during vein graft remodeling in rabbits

Published: October 05, 2016
Genet. Mol. Res. 15(4): gmr8701 DOI: 10.4238/gmr.15048701

Abstract

Neo-intima development and atherosclerosis limit the long-term use of vein grafts for revascularization of ischemic tissues. Recently, studies have confirmed that proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) plays an important role in cell proliferation. Our research confirmed that 28 days after vein transplantation, PCNA expression increases significantly. Using rabbits, rather than rodents, for a more representative model of human vein grafts, we aimed to establish a time course of changes in cell proliferation and apoptosis using morphometric and immunohistochemical analyses, western blot, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The external jugular veins of 42 healthy purebred male New Zealand white rabbits were grafted onto their common carotid arteries. The rabbits were divided into seven groups, with vein grafts being harvested before surgery, and at 1, 3, 7, 14, 28, and 90 days afterwards. The extent of stenosis and apoptosis, PCNA protein levels, and TEM morphology were subsequently examined. Intimal thickness was slightly decreased 1 day following surgery, but then increased continuously until the 90th day. Western blot and immunohistochemistry both indicated lowered PCNA expression on day 1, although levels subsequently increased, peaking at 7 days post-surgery. After surgery, apoptosis was lowest on day 7, and remained low thereafter. TEM revealed signs of apoptosis as vein graft restenosis progressed. Proliferation and apoptosis co-occurred following grafting, indicating that both processes were involved in vein graft remodeling. Apoptosis levels were highest between days 1 and 3 after surgery, whereas proliferation culminated on the 7th day.

Neo-intima development and atherosclerosis limit the long-term use of vein grafts for revascularization of ischemic tissues. Recently, studies have confirmed that proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) plays an important role in cell proliferation. Our research confirmed that 28 days after vein transplantation, PCNA expression increases significantly. Using rabbits, rather than rodents, for a more representative model of human vein grafts, we aimed to establish a time course of changes in cell proliferation and apoptosis using morphometric and immunohistochemical analyses, western blot, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The external jugular veins of 42 healthy purebred male New Zealand white rabbits were grafted onto their common carotid arteries. The rabbits were divided into seven groups, with vein grafts being harvested before surgery, and at 1, 3, 7, 14, 28, and 90 days afterwards. The extent of stenosis and apoptosis, PCNA protein levels, and TEM morphology were subsequently examined. Intimal thickness was slightly decreased 1 day following surgery, but then increased continuously until the 90th day. Western blot and immunohistochemistry both indicated lowered PCNA expression on day 1, although levels subsequently increased, peaking at 7 days post-surgery. After surgery, apoptosis was lowest on day 7, and remained low thereafter. TEM revealed signs of apoptosis as vein graft restenosis progressed. Proliferation and apoptosis co-occurred following grafting, indicating that both processes were involved in vein graft remodeling. Apoptosis levels were highest between days 1 and 3 after surgery, whereas proliferation culminated on the 7th day.