Allograft vasculopathy (AV) remains one of the major challenges to the long-term functioning of solid organ transplants. Although its exact pathogenesis remains unclear, AV is characterized by both fibromuscular proliferation and infiltration of CD4+ memory T cells. We here tested whether two experimental immunosuppressants targeting K+ channels might be useful for preventing AV. PAP-1 inhibits the voltage-gated Kv1.3 channel, which is overexpressed on CCR72 memory T cells and we therefore hypothesize that it should suppress the memory T cell component of AV. Based on its previous efficacy in restenosis and kidney fibrosis we expected that the KCa3.1 blocker TRAM-34 would primarily affect smooth muscle and fibroblast proliferation and thus reduce intimal hyperplasia. Using immunohistochemistry we demonstrated the presence of Kv1.3 on infiltrating T cells and of KCa3.1 on lymphocytes as well as on proliferating neointimal smooth muscle cells in human vasculopathy samples and in a rat aorta transplant model developing chronic AV. Treatment of PVG rats receiving orthotopically transplanted aortas from ACI rats with TRAM-34 dose-dependently reduced aortic luminal occlusion, intimal hyperplasia, mononuclear cell infiltration and collagen deposition 120 days after transplantation. The Kv1.3 blocker PAP-1 in contrast did not reduce intima hyperplasia despite drastically reducing plasma IFN-γ levels and inhibiting lymphocyte infiltration. Our findings suggest that KCa3.1 channels play an important role in the pathogenesis of chronic AV and constitute an attractive target for the prevention of arteriopathy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)