The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a nonuniform coating, abluminal-gradient coating (AGC), which leaves the abluminal surface of the curves and links parts of the stent free from the drug coating, on the diffusion direction of the drug and the biological responses of the artery to drug-eluting stent (DES) by comparing the AGC-sirolimus stent and the conventional full-surface coating (CFC) sirolimus stent. The study aimed to verify whether the AGC approach was appropriate for the development of a safer DES, minimizing the risks of stent thrombosis due to delayed endothelialization by the drug and distal embolization due to cracking of the coating layer on the hinge parts of the DES on stent expansion. In the in vitro local drug diffusion study, we used rhodamine B as a model drug, and rhodamine B released from the AGC stent diffused predominantly into the abluminal side of the alginate artery model. Conversely, rhodamine B released from the CFC stent quickly spread to the luminal side of the artery model, where endothelial cell regeneration is required. In the biological responses study, the luminal surface of the iliac artery implanted with the AGC-sirolimus stent in a rabbit iliac artery for 2 weeks was completely covered with endothelial-like cells. On the other hand, the luminal surface of the iliac artery implanted with the CFC-sirolimus stent for 2 weeks only showed partial coverage with endothelial-like cells. While thrombosis was observed in two of the three CFC-sirolimus stents, it was observed in only one of the three AGC-sirolimus stents. Taken together, these findings indicate that the designed nonuniform coating (AGC) is an appropriate approach to ensure a safer DES. However, the number of studies is limited and a larger study should be conducted to reach a statistically significant conclusion.
Keywords: abluminal coating; drug diffusion; drug-eluting stent; endothelialization.