Inhibition of transplant coronary arteriosclerosis in rabbits by chronic estradiol treatment is associated with abolition of MHC class II antigen expression

Hong Lou, Teruaki Kodama, Ye Jun Zhao, Peter Maurice, Yi Ning Wang, Nevin Katz, Marie L. Foegh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Background: Accelerated coronary arteriosclerosis is a major complication in long-term survivors of cardiac transplantation. Estrogen prevents transplant arteriosclerosis in experimental cardiac and aortic allografts and may act by an immune mechanism. Methods and Results: New Zealand White rabbits immunosuppressed with cyclosporine were recipients of cardiac allografts from Dutch Belted rabbits. The recipients received either estradiol or placebo daily until they were killed 6 weeks later. Histological cross sections of the cardiac allograft were used for quantification of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antigen expression, T lymphocytes, and macrophages by immunohistochemistry using monoclonal antibodies, MHC class II antigen expression was not delectable in allograft coronary arteries from any of the estradiol-treated recipients, whereas this antigen expression was present in the allograft coronary arteries from all the placebo-treated recipients. Macrophage and lymphocyte infiltration of the allograft coronary artery myointima was significantly less frequent in the estradiol-treated group. Rejection was moderate but slightly less in the estradiol-treated group. These findings were associated with a 60% decrease in allograft coronary artery myointimal thickening (determined by morphometry) in the estradiol-treated compared with the placebo-treated group. Conclusions: Estradiol treatment of cardiac allograft recipients abolishes MHC class II antigen expression in the coronary arteries and decreases macrophage infiltration in all three layers of the vessel wall, whereas T-lymphocyte infiltration is decreased only in the myointima. These findings are associated with estradiol inhibition of myointimal proliferation. Thus, estradiol treatment may have a beneficial effect on graft arteriosclerosis through immune mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3355-3361
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • antigens
  • arteries
  • arteriosclerosis
  • rejection
  • transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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