Neointimal formation and cell proliferation resulting into in-stent restenosis is a major pathophysiological event following the deployment of stents in the coronary arteries. In this study, we assessed the degree of injury, based on damage to internal elastic lamina, media, external elastic lamina, and adventitia following the intravascular stenting, and its relationship with the degree of smooth muscle cell proliferation. We examined the smooth muscle cell proliferation and their phenotype at different levels of stent injury in the coronary arteries of domestic swine fed a normal swine diet. Five weeks after stent implantation, swine with and without stents were euthanized and coronaries were excised. Arteries were embedded in methyl methacrylate and sections were stained with H&E, trichrome, and Movat's pentachrome. The expression of Ki67, α-smooth muscle actin (SMA), vimentin, and HMGB1 was evaluated by immunofluorescence. There was a positive correlation between percent area stenosis and injury score. The distribution of SMA and vimentin was correlated with the degree of arterial injury such that arteries that had an injury score >2 did not have immunoreactivity to SMA in the neointimal cells near the stent struts, but these neointimal cells were positive for vimentin, suggesting a change in the smooth muscle cell phenotype. The Ki67 and HMGB1 immunoreactivity was highly correlated with the fragmentation of the IEL and injury in the tunica media. Thus, the extent of coronary arterial injury during interventional procedure will dictate the degree of neointimal hyperplasia, in-stent restenosis, and smooth muscle cell phenotype.
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