Saphenous vein graft disease is a timely problem in coronary artery bypass grafting. Indeed, after exposure of the vein to arterial blood flow, a progressive modification in the wall begins, due to proliferation of smooth muscle cells in the intima. As a consequence, the graft progressively occludes and this leads to recurrent ischemia. In the present study we employed a novel ex vivo culture system to assess the biological effects of arterial-like pressure on the human saphenous vein structure and physiology, and to compare the results to those achieved in the presence of a constant low pressure and flow mimicking the physiologic vein perfusion. While under both conditions we found an activation of Matrix Metallo- Proteases 2/9 and of microRNAs-21/146a/221, a specific effect of the arterial-like pressure was observed. This consisted in a marked geometrical remodeling, in the suppression of Tissue Inhibitor of Metallo-Protease-1, in the enhanced expression of TGF-β and BMP-2 mRNAs and, finally, in the upregulation of microRNAs-138/200b/200c. In addition, the veins exposed to arterial-like pressure showed an increase in the density of the adventitial vasa vasorum and of cells co-expressing NG2, CD44 and SM22α markers in the adventitia. Cells with nuclear expression of Sox-10, a transcription factor characterizing multipotent vascular stem cells, were finally found in adventitial vessels. Our findings suggest, for the first time, a role of arterial-like wall strain in the activation of pro-pathologic pathways resulting in adventitial vessels growth, activation of vasa vasorumcells, and upregulation of specific gene products associated to vascular remodeling and inflammation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)