Intimal hyperplasia and expression of transforming growth factor-beta1 in saphenous veins and internal mammary arteries before coronary artery surgery

Reinhard Friedl, Jun Li, Bernd Schumacher, Hartmut Hanke, Johannes Waltenberger, Andreas Hannekum, Sylvia Stracke
Annals of Thoracic Surgery 2004, 78 (4): 1312-8

BACKGROUND: The development of fibromuscular intimal hyperplasia and subsequent graft failure remains an urgent problem in cardiac surgery. Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) is involved in the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis through induction of extracellular matrix proteins. We tested the hypothesis that intimal hyperplasia is already present in human saphenous veins and left internal mammary arteries before coronary artery bypass surgery and is associated with an increased expression of TGF-beta1.

METHODS: Forty-six segments of saphenous veins and 27 of left internal mammary arteries were collected from 50 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. Morphometric analysis was performed by microscopic computer analysis. Immunohistochemistry was performed with antibodies directed against TGF-beta1, its latent binding protein (LTBP-1) and its type 2 receptor (RII).

RESULTS: The incidence of intimal hyperplasia was significantly higher in saphenous veins (67.4%) than in mammary arteries (29.6%; p < 0.05). Saphenous veins and mammary arteries with intimal hyperplasia expressed more TGF-beta1 (endothelial and intimal layers) and LTBP-1 (intimal and medial layers) when compared with corresponding vessels without hyperplasia (both groups p < 0.05). Endothelial and intimal RII expression was significantly higher in saphenous veins with intimal hyperplasia as compared with saphenous veins without hyperplasia (p < 0.05). Transforming growth factor-beta1 staining in the intima correlated with the presence of an intimal hyperplasia in saphenous veins (rho = 0.317) and mammary arteries (rho = 0.428).

CONCLUSIONS: Local TGF-beta1 expression is associated with the presence of intimal hyperplasia in the examined vessels. Preexisting intimal hyperplasia is more prevalent and serious in saphenous veins than in left internal mammary arteries, giving further explanation to the superior long-term results of left internal mammary grafts.

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