Aim: On the average, 15% to 25% of peripheral grafts and 10% to 30% of coronary grafts fail within 5 years. Changes in mechanical forces to which the vein is subjected could be an explanation for this phenomenon. We submitted human saphenous vein segments to non-pulsatile ex vivo perfusion with crescent pressures and evaluated morphology, nitric oxide synthase immunohistochemical expression; tissue levels of nitrite/nitrate and oxidative stress products.
Methods: Intact segments of human saphenous veins were obtained from 30 patients submitted to elective coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Ex vivo perfusion was performed during 3 hours, using oxygenated Krebs solution, flow of 100 mL/min and pressures of 0, 50, 100, 200 and 300 mmHg, defining five groups.
Results: Optical microscopy showed that veins of groups perfused with 200 and 300 mmHg presented increased luminal area and endothelial denuding. Electron microscopy transmission showed alterations in veins perfused with 200 and 300 mmHg. Immunohistochemical expression of the three nitric oxide synthase isoforms was observed in all vein layers, without significant difference among groups. Tissue levels of nitrite/nitrate were not significantly different among distinctive perfusion. Nitrotyrosine was not immunohistochemically expressed in all veins and malondialdehyde tissue levels were not different among groups.
Conclusion: Non-pulsatile ex vivo perfusion during 3h caused morphological alterations in human saphenous veins (HSVs), which were not accompanied by immunohistochemical and biochemical alterations. Even with mechanical lesions, HSVs maintained the ability of express nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and release nitric oxide.