Objective: To investigate endothelial cell adhesion molecule expression in vessels from patients with classic polyarteritis nodosa (PAN).
Methods: Frozen sections of 21 muscle and 16 nerve samples from 30 patients with biopsy-proven PAN and 12 histologically normal muscle and 2 histologically normal nerve samples from 12 controls were studied immunohistochemically, using specific monoclonal antibodies (MAb) that recognize adhesion molecules. Adhesion molecules identified were intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), ICAM-2, ICAM-3, vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1 (PECAM-1), E-selectin, P-selectin, L-selectin, lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1), and very late activation antigen 4 (VLA-4). Neutrophils were identified with a MAb recognizing neutrophil elastase. Endothelial cells were identified with the lectin ulex europaeus.
Results: In early lesions, expression of PECAM-1, ICAM-1, ICAM-2, and P-selectin was similar to that in control samples, and VCAM-1 and E-selectin were induced in vascular endothelium. In advanced lesions, immunostaining for adhesion molecules diminished or disappeared in luminal endothelium, whereas these molecules were clearly expressed in microvessels within and surrounding inflamed vessels. Staining in endothelia from vessels in a healing stage tended to be negative. A high proportion of infiltrating leukocytes expressed LFA-1 and VLA-4, and only a minority expressed L-selectin. No relationship between the expression pattern of adhesion molecules and clinical features, disease duration, or previous corticosteroid treatment was observed.
Conclusion: Endothelial adhesion molecule expression in PAN is a dynamic process that varies according to the histopathologic stage of the vascular lesions. The preferential expression of constitutive and inducible adhesion molecules in microvessels suggests that angiogenesis contributes to the persistence of inflammatory infiltration in PAN.