Background: Arteriovenous fistulas placed surgically for dialysis vascular access have a high primary failure rate resulting from excessive inward remodeling, medial fibrosis, and thrombosis. No clinically established pharmacologic or perisurgical therapies currently address this unmet need. Statins' induction of multiple anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic effects suggests that these drugs might reduce arteriovenous fistula failure. Yet, the in vivo physiologic and molecular effects of statins on fistula patency and maturation remain poorly understood. Methods: We randomized 108 C57Bl/6J mice to receive daily atorvastatin 1.14 mg/kg or PBS (control) starting 7 days before end-to-side carotid artery-jugular vein fistula creation and for up to 42 days after fistula creation. We then assessed longitudinally the effects of statin therapy on primary murine fistula patency and maturation. We concomitantly analyzed the in vivo arteriovenous fistula thrombogenic and inflammatory macrophage response to statin therapy, using the fibrin-targeted, near-infrared fluorescence molecular imaging agent FTP11-CyAm7 and dextranated, macrophage-avid nanoparticles CLIOVT680. Results: In vivo molecular-structural imaging demonstrated that atorvastatin significantly reduced fibrin deposition at day 7 and macrophage accumulation at days 7 and 14, findings supported by histopathologic and gene-expression analyses. Structurally, atorvastatin promoted favorable venous limb outward remodeling, preserved arteriovenous fistula blood flow, and prolonged primary arteriovenous fistula patency through day 42 (P<0.05 versus control for all measures). Conclusions: These findings provide new in vivo evidence that statins improve experimental arteriovenous fistula patency and maturation, indicating that additional clinical evaluation of statin therapy in patients on dialysis undergoing arteriovenous fistula placement is warranted.
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