Venous neointimal hyperplasia (VNH) causes hemodialysis vascular access failure. Here we tested whether VNH formation occurs in part due to local vessel hypoxia caused by surgical trauma to the vasa vasorum of the outflow vein at the time of arteriovenous fistula placement. Selective targeting of the adventitia of the outflow vein at the time of fistula creation was performed using a lentivirus-delivered small-hairpin RNA that inhibits VEGF-A expression. This resulted in significant increase in mean lumen vessel area, decreased media/adventitia area, and decreased constrictive remodeling with a significant increase in apoptosis (increase in caspase 3 activity and TUNEL staining) accompanied with decreased cellular proliferation and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α at the outflow vein. There was significant decrease in cells staining positive for α-smooth muscle actin (a myofibroblast marker) and VEGFR-1 expression with a decrease in MMP-2 and MMP-9. These results were confirmed in animals that were treated with humanized monoclonal antibody to VEGF-A with similar results. Since hypoxia can cause fibroblast to differentiate into myofibroblasts, we silenced VEGF-A gene expression in fibroblasts and subjected them to hypoxia. This decreased myofibroblast production, cellular proliferation, cell invasion, MMP-2 activity, and increased caspase 3. Thus, VEGF-A reduction at the time of arteriovenous fistula placement results in increased positive vascular remodeling.
- vascular access
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