Intimal hyperplasia represents a serious complication limiting the long- term benefits of vascular interventions such as balloon angioplasty and stent placement. Although pharmacological interventions have attempted to curtail restenosis, they have not been shown to be effective to date. Radiotherapy is one alternative that has shown promise as an inhibitor of intimal hyperplasia in several animal models. Irradiation causes cell death by producing irreparable damage to DNA. This is believed to be the mechanism of inhibition of VSMC proliferation. Delivery of irradiation can be either intraluminal via an angiographically directed catheter or extraluminal using an external radiation source such as an x-ray device. Intraluminal irradiation has generally utilized either gamma or beta-emitting sources. Both have been effective in producing a dose response, although some studies advocate the use of beta-type irradiation as a safer, more efficient means of delivery. Extraluminal irradiation also has been an effective inhibitor of intimal hyperplasia. Studies suggest that this form of irradiation provides a more even-dose distribution to vessel walls than an intravascular delivery system. The use of radiotherapy has more recently been extended to clinical trials, and initial studies have shown promising results. The success of irradiation must be balanced with its potential complications including radiation- induced arteritis, coronary artery stenosis, and secondary development of malignancy. Although these have been associated with irradiation, the dose used in these cases was often considerably higher than those used in the treatment of intimal hyperplasia. Finally, with the advent of gene therapy, irradiation may provide an additional means of supplementing this new type of therapy through radiation-inducible gene therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine