Background: Recent studies suggest that statins can protect the vasculature in a manner that is independent of their lipid-lowering activity through inhibition of the small guanosine triphosphate-binding protein, Rho, and Rho-associated kinase. Little information is available on the inhibitory effect of statins on vein graft intimal hyperplasia, the main cause of late graft failure after bypass grafting. We therefore examined the effects of a hydrophilic statin on vein graft intimal hyperplasia in vivo and Rho-kinase activity in vitro. Methods: In the first experiment, rabbits were randomized to a control group (n = 7) that was fed regular rabbit chow or to a pravastatin group (n = 7) that was fed regular rabbit chow supplemented with 10 mg/kg pravastatin sodium. The branches of the jugular vein were ligated and an approximately 3-cm segment of the jugular vein was taken for an autologous reversed-vein graft. The carotid artery was cut and replaced with the harvested autologous jugular vein. At 2 and 4 weeks after the operation, vein grafts in both groups were harvested, and intimal hyperplasia of the vein grafts was assessed. In the second experiment, human umbilical vein endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells were cultured and then treated with 1 μmol/L and 30 μmol/L pravastatin for 24 hours and harvested. Immunoblotting was performed on the resulting precipitates. Quantitative evaluation of phosphorylated myosin binding subunit and endothelial nitric oxide synthase was performed by densitometric analysis. Results: We demonstrated that oral administration of the hydrophilic statin pravastatin to normocholesterolemic rabbits inhibited intimal hyperplasia of carotid interposition-reversed jugular vein grafts 4 weeks after implantation (pravastatin group, 39.5 ± 3.5 μm vs control group, 64.0 ± 7.1 μm; n = 7; P < .05) and suppressed cell proliferation and apoptosis in the neointima 2 weeks after implantation. In addition, we found that pravastatin inhibited Rho-kinase activity and accelerated endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression in human umbilical vein endothelial cells but did not inhibit Rho-kinase activity in vascular smooth muscle cells. Conclusions: These novel findings clearly demonstrate that a hydrophilic statin can suppress intimal hyperplasia of the vein graft in vivo and also show endothelial cell-tropic inhibition of Rho-kinase in vitro. Furthermore, these results strongly support the clinical use of hydrophilic statins to prevent intimal hyperplasia of the vein graft after bypass grafting. Clinical Relevance: Late graft failure caused by neointimal hyperplasia limits the efficacy of vein grafting. Various treatments were examined to reduce neointimal hyperplasia, but a standard clinical treatment has not yet been established. We report here the inhibitory effect of pravastatin on the development of vein graft intimal hyperplasia. In addition, we demonstrate that pravastatin showed endothelial cell-tropic benefits through both the inhibition of Rho-kinase activity and acceleration of eNOS expression in vitro. Because the clinical benefits and safety of pravastatin have been established to a certain extent through long-term clinical usage, pravastatin may soon become standard treatment after vein bypass grafting.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine