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Acute injury after adenoviral vascular gene transfer remains incompletely characterized. Here, we describe the early response (< or =days) in 52 New Zealand White rabbits undergoing gene transfer (beta-galactosidase or empty vector) or sham procedures to both carotid arteries. After gene transfer, arteries were either left in vivo for 1 hour to 3 days (in vivo arteries) or were excised immediately after gene transfer and cultured (ex vivo arteries). Within 1 hour, in vivo arteries receiving infectious titers of > or = 4X10(9) plaque-forming units (pfu)/mL showed endothelial activation, with an acute inflammatory infiltrate developing by 6 hours. Ex vivo arteries showed endothelial activation but no inflammatory infiltrate. There were also significant differences in transgene expression between in vivo and ex vivo arteries. Ex vivo arteries showed titer-dependent increases in beta-galactosidase expression through 2X10(10) pfu/mL, whereas in in vivo arteries, titers above 4X10(9) pfu/mL merely increased acute inflammatory response, without increasing transgene expression. In vivo arteries showed significant time- and titer-dependent impairment in endothelium-dependent relaxation, with no effect on contraction or nitroprusside-induced relaxation. Interestingly, however, if rabbits were made neutropenic with vinblastine, their arteries maintained full endothelium-dependent relaxation, even after very high titer vascular infection (up to 1X10(11) pfu/mL). These findings show that recombinant adenovirus triggers an early inflammatory response, and it is the inflammatory response that in turn causes functional endothelial injury. This occurs at much lower titers than previously appreciated (though the precise threshold will undoubtedly vary between laboratories). However, titers below the inflammatory threshold produce excellent transgene expression without inflammation or vascular injury.


Journal article


Circ Res

Publication Date





1253 - 1262


Adenoviridae, Animals, Arteries, Endothelium, Vascular, Gene Expression, Gene Transfer Techniques, Genetic Vectors, Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1, Male, Rabbits, Transgenes, Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1, Vasculitis