Gene therapy enhances the antiproliferative effect of radiation in intimal hyperplasia

John E. Fortunato, Helena J. Mauceri, Hrachya Kocharyan, Ruo H. Song, Rabih Salloum, James Vosicky, Kirsten Swedberg, Saira Malik, Faris Abusharif, Seymour Glagov, Ralph R. Weichselbaum, Hisham S. Bassiouny*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background. Although ionizing radiation (IR) has been demonstrated to attenuate vessel wall restenosis and intimal hyperplasia (IH), dose-related mural injury and atrophy are possible deleterious side effects. We tested the hypothesis that a radiosensitizing strategy may improve IR-induced inhibition of in vivo vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) without influencing apoptotic cell death. Methods. In 28 New Zealand White rabbits, the right common carotid artery (CCA) was injured and subjected to low-flow conditions to promote IH. The CCA was transfected with an adenoviral vector incorporating the cytosine deaminase (CD) gene (1 x 109 PFU/ml). 5-Fluorocytosine (5-FC), a prodrug that is converted to the radiosensitizing agent 5-fluorouracil (5- FU) by CD, was thereafter administered intravenously. The CCA was exposed to 5 Gy IR at 24 h. Intimal/medial (I/M) area and thickness ratios were determined in the harvested CCAs at 14 days. VSMC proliferative and apoptotic indices were assessed with immunohistochemistry. Results. A 50% reduction in I/M area was found in rabbits treated with IR and IR + CD/5-FC (0.19 ± 0.03 and 0.18 ± 0.02) when compared with untreated controls (UC) (0.37 ± 0.06) (P = 0.005). This finding was substantiated by attenuation of I/M thickness in the IR groups [0.47 ± 0.13 (IR), 0.41 ± 0.11 (IR + CD/5-FC), 0.61 ± 0.17 (UC)] (P = 0.007). The number of proliferating VSMCs was notably smaller when IR was combined with CD/5-FC (4.17 ± 1.16 vs 2.97 ± 1.09 log transformed cells/mm2, P < 0.07). Apoptosis was similar in all groups. Conclusions. Both IR alone and IR combined with a radiosensitizing agent are effective in attenuating experimental IH. However, combination therapy is synergistic and achieves greater inhibition of VSMC proliferation and may involve selective killing of radioresistant S-phase VSMCs. IR + CD/5-FC represents a novel therapeutic strategy that offers potential for long-term control of IH. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-162
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2000


  • 5- fluorouracil
  • 5-fluorocytosine
  • Cytosine deaminase
  • Intimal hyperplasia
  • Intimal/medial
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Proliferating cell nuclear antigen
  • Right common carotid artery
  • Vascular smooth muscle cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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