Background. Graft vascular disease (GVD) is an incompletely understood process and the primary cause of late allograft failure. A nonhuman primate model was established to study the progression of GVD by using serial intravascular ultrasound (IVUS). Methods. Aortic allografts were transplanted below the inferior mesenteric arteries (IMA) into 6 rhesus monkeys. Removed and re-implanted aortic segments between renal arteries, and the inferior mesenteric arteries served as autografts. IVUS was performed at days 0, 24, 52, 80, and 98 after transplantation. Vessel area (VA) and lumen area (LA) were measured from each cross-section at 0.5 mm intervals. Intimal index (II=100x (VA-LA/VA)) and corresponding vessel volumes were calculated for the whole grafts. Histologic features were assessed from autopsy samples using computerized morphometric method and a score from 0 to 3 for GVD (0=none, 3=severe). Results. In allografts, vessel volume and luminal volume decreased significantly (P<0.05 for both) and the intimal index increased from 12% to 59% by day 98. These parameters remained unchanged in autografts. Histologic analysis of allografts showed concentric intimal hyperplasia and scattered mononuclear cell accumulations, whereas the autografts had only occasional eccentric intimal changes. The GVD-scores were significantly higher in allografts than in autografts (median 3 vs. 1, P=0.042). Conclusions. We introduce a nonhuman primate model of GVD that enables serial IVUS assessments of multiple parameters of GVD. Concentric intimal proliferation and decrease of vessel dimensions was observed in allografts as a consequence of alloimmunity. This is a potential new model for studying new therapies to prevent GVD or halt its progression.
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