Adenovirus-mediated in vivo gene transfer in a rabbit model of allograft vasculopathy

M. R. Mehra, D. D. Stapleton, J. L. Cook, T. Zhang, H. O. Ventura, C. H. Huang -, B. Maldonado, F. W. Smart, R. N. Re, J. P. Murgo, R. W. Barbee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: The long-term success of heart transplantation continues to be in jeopardy because of the development of accelerated vascular myointimal proliferation. Transfer of genes encoding products that can modulate the adverse consequences of phenomena that cause myointimal proliferation, into the allograft vessel wall, may modify these pathologic processes. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of gene transfer and to evaluate the duration of gene expression in a rabbit heterotopic aortic transplant model of allograft vasculopathy. Methods: The abdominal aortas of 32 outbred New Zealand rabbits were harvested and cross-sectionally bisected (n = 64). Six donor and recipient animals were used in a preliminary study to examine neointimal proliferation without accompanying gene transfer. Of the remaining 26 rabbits (52 allografts), one half of each allograft aorta was administered a control solution, while the other half was incubated with a replication- defective, recombinant, adenoviral vector-encoding, cytomegalovirus promoter- regulated β-galactosidase. After a 20-minute incubation period, bilateral aorto-carotid transplantations were performed in 26 recipient rabbits. All animals received cyclosporine immunosuppression (10 mg/kg/day subcutaneously). The allografts were harvested at 3, 7, 10, 21, and 28 days after transplantation and assayed for β-galactosidase activity. Results: Neointimal areas showed an initially slow increase for the first 10 days, followed by a rapid increase up to 21 days, and tended to plateau thereafter. Significant β-galactosidase was apparent in aortic sections dissected from host rabbits for all time points, except at 28 days. At the 21-day time point, the aortic section from one rabbit was positive, whereas the other two remained negative. However, the one positive section showed intense β- galactosidase activity, suggesting variability in the experimental model. At 28 days, all aortic sections were negative. Conclusions: Our findings confirm that genes delivered by this method are expressed for the duration of early rapid intimal proliferation in this heterotopic rabbit model of aortic allograft vasculopathy. These findings suggest that this animal model can be used to assess the therapeutic potential of gene transfer at the time of vascular transplantation and may provide a novel therapeutic approach to prevent or ameliorate the genesis of allograft vasculopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Feb 23 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Transplantation


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