Small-caliber heparin-coated ePTFE grafts reduce platelet deposition and neointimal hyperplasia in a baboon model

J Vasc Surg. 2004 Jun;39(6):1322-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2004.01.046.


Purpose: Intimal hyperplasia and graft thrombosis are major causes of graft failure. Heparin prolongs graft patency and inhibits neointimal hyperplasia in animal models. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a heparin-coated expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) graft on platelet deposition and anastomotic neointimal hyperplasia after aortoiliac bypass grafting in a baboon model.

Methods: Heparin-coated ePTFE grafts (4-mm diameter) were incorporated into exteriorized femoral arteriovenous shunts placed in five baboons. Platelet deposition was analyzed by measuring the accumulation of indium 111-labeled platelets on the grafts, with dynamic scintillation camera imaging. Eight adult male baboons (mean weight, 9.3 kg) underwent bilateral aortoiliac bypass grafting with ePTFE grafts (4-mm internal diameter). In each animal a heparin-coated ePTFE graft was placed in one aortoiliac artery, and an uncoated graft, which served as the control, was placed in the contralateral aortoiliac artery. All grafts were harvested at 4 weeks, and were analyzed quantitatively for neointimal hyperplasia at graft-vessel anastomoses.

Results: Early platelet deposition on heparin-coated grafts after 1 to 4 hours of ex vivo circuitry was significantly reduced. All the harvested aortoiliac grafts were patent at 4 weeks. There was a significant reduction in neointimal area at both proximal (0.26 +/- 0.11 mm(2)) and distal (0.29 +/- 0.14 mm(2)) anastomoses in the heparin-coated grafts, compared with proximal (0.56 +/- 0.18 mm(2)) and distal (0.63 +/- 0.21 mm(2)) anastomoses in the untreated control grafts (P <.05). In addition, neointimal cell proliferation assayed with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation was reduced in the graft neointima (3.47% +/- 0.43%) in heparin-coated grafts compared with the graft neointima (6.21% +/- 0.59%) in untreated control grafts (P <.05).

Conclusions: Small-caliber heparin-coated ePTFE grafts significantly reduce platelet deposition and anastomotic neointimal hyperplasia and cell proliferation, without measurable side effects, in baboons. Surface coating with heparin in small-caliber ePTFE grafts is useful for improving prosthetic bypass graft patency.

Clinical relevance: An autologous vein graft is the ideal bypass conduit in peripheral arterial reconstruction; however, many patients who undergo bypass grafting do not have adequate or available autologous vein graft. As a result surgeons often must rely on prosthetic grafts as an alternative conduit in arterial bypass procedures. Clinical outcomes with prosthetic grafts in peripheral arterial reconstruction are generally inferior to those with autologous vein bypass grafts, in part because of anastomotic neointimal hyperplasia. This study evaluated the effect of small-caliber heparin-coated expandable polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) grafts in aortoiliac reconstruction in a baboon model. The study found that heparin-coated ePTFE grafts resulted in less intimal hyperplasia and less platelet deposition after implantation, compared with noncoated control ePTFE grafts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Anastomosis, Surgical
  • Animals
  • Aorta, Abdominal / cytology
  • Aorta, Abdominal / metabolism
  • Aorta, Abdominal / surgery
  • Blood Platelets / cytology
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects*
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis Implantation
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Heparin / therapeutic use*
  • Hyperplasia / drug therapy
  • Iliac Artery / cytology
  • Iliac Artery / metabolism
  • Iliac Artery / surgery
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / cytology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / drug effects
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Papio
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene / therapeutic use*
  • Tunica Intima / pathology*


  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene
  • Heparin