Rapamycin reverses chronic graft vascular disease in a novel cardiac allograft model

Robert S. Poston, Margaret Billingham, E. Grant Hoyt, Jeffrey Pollard, Randi Shorthouse, Randall E. Morris, Robert C. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Background - Chronic graft vascular disease (CGVD) in cardiac allografts has been defined as a slowly evolving vasculopathy unresponsive to conventional immunosuppression. We compared 4 rodent models of CGVD to evaluate the reproducibility of CGVD in heart allografts. Rapamycin (Rapa) and cyclosporine (CSA) were then used to treat CGVD. Methods and Results - Hearts were harvested and placed heterotopically into allogenic recipients. CGVD scores of PVG allografts from ACI recipients treated with CSA on days 1 through 10 were significantly elevated on day 90 (n = 16) compared with other models (immunosuppression used): (1) Lewis to F344 recipients (CSA), (2) Brown Norway to Lewis (FK506), and (3) DA to Wistar-Firth (methylprednisolone, azathioprine, CSA). Although delayed (day 60 to 90) CSA treatment had no effect (n = 6), delayed Rapa (3 mg · kg-1 · d-1 IP) reversed CGVD in PVG grafts (0.22 ± 0.19 on day 90, n = 6). ACI isografts showed no evidence of CGVD (n = 6) at day 90. Immunohistochemistry of PVG grafts revealed perivascular infiltrates consisting of CD4+ T cells and limited numbers of macrophages persisting up to day 90. Flow cytometry demonstrated increased levels of anti-donor antibody at day 90, which was significantly inhibited by Rapa treatment. Conclusions - PVG grafts developed a significant increase in CGVD without evidence of ongoing myocardial rejection. This CGVD appeared to be mediated by both cellular and humoral mechanisms, given CD4+ perivascular infiltrates and increased levels of anti-donor antibody. The anti-CGVD effectiveness of Rapa during a period in which there was little myocardial cellular infiltrate supports a novel mechanism of effect such as smooth muscle or B-cell inhibition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 6 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibodies
  • Coronary disease
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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