Vascular wound healing and neointima formation induced by perivascular electric injury in mice

Am J Pathol. 1997 Feb;150(2):761-76.


Vascular interventions for atherothrombotic disease frequently induce neointima formation, which can contribute to restenosis of blood vessels. As the molecular mechanisms of this process remain largely unknown, quantitative models of arterial injury in transgenic animals may be useful to study this process at the genetic level. Here, an injury model is proposed in which surgically exposed femoral arteries in mice were injured perivascularly via a single delivery of an electric current. Transmission electron microscopy, light microscopy, and immunohistochemistry revealed that electric injury destroyed all medial smooth muscle cells, denuded the injured segment of intact endothelium, and transiently induced platelet-rich mural thrombosis. A vascular wound-healing response resulted that was characterized by degradation of the mural thrombus, transient infiltration of the vessel wall by inflammatory cells, and progressive removal of the necrotic debris. Topographic analysis revealed repopulation of the media and accumulation in the neointima of smooth muscle cells originating from the uninjured borders and progressing into the necrotic center. Within 3 weeks after injury, a neointima of 0.026 +/- 0.003 mm2 (n = 7 arteries) was formed that contained a maximum of 12 +/- 1 layers of smooth muscle alpha-actin-immunoreactive cells. Evans blue staining in five electrically injured arteries revealed a denuded distance of 2.8 +/- 0.2 mm immediately after injury, which became progressively re-endothelialized from the uninjured borders to 2.2 +/- 0.08 mm (P = 0.013 vs freshly injured by analysis of variance), 0.8 +/- 0.22 mm (P < 0.001), and 0.005 +/- 0.003 mm (P < 0.001) within 2, 7, and 14 days after injury, respectively. Analysis of 5'-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine incorporation revealed that a maximum of 35 +/- 10% endothelial cells proliferated within 2 days after injury and that in the media and neointima, a maximum of, respectively, 12 +/- 2% and 18 +/- 3% smooth muscle cells proliferated within 2 weeks after injury. Thus, electric injury of arteries provides a model of vascular wound healing with arterial neointima formation and re-endothelialization that may be useful for the genetic analysis of its molecular mechanisms in transgenic mice.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Injuries / complications
  • Electric Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery / injuries*
  • Femoral Artery / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Leukocytes / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / pathology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / pathology
  • Tunica Intima / physiopathology*
  • Wound Healing*