Long-Term Treatment with a Specific Rho-Kinase Inhibitor Suppresses Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy in Mice

Tsuyoshi Hattori, Hiroaki Shimokawa, Midoriko Higashi, Junko Hiroki, Yasushi Mukai, Kozo Kaibuchi, Akira Takeshita

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76 Citations (Scopus)


Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) continues to be a major cause of late graft failure after cardiac transplantation. We have demonstrated that Rho-kinase, an effector of the small GTPase Rho, plays an important role in the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis. In this study, we examined whether the Rho-kinase-mediated pathway is also involved in the pathogenesis of CAV using a specific Rho-kinase inhibitor and a dominant-negative Rho-kinase. Hearts from AKR mice were heterotopically transplanted to C3H/He (allograft) or AKR mice (isograft), and the effects of long-term oral treatment with fasudil, which is metabolized to a specific Rho-kinase inhibitor hydroxyfasudil, on CAV were examined at 2 and 4 weeks after the transplantation. Coronary remodeling in the allografts characterized by intimal thickening and perivascular fibrosis was dose-dependently suppressed in the fasudil group compared with the control group (P<0.01, n=9 to 10). The inhibitory effects of hydroxyfasudil were mimicked by in vivo gene transfer of dominant-negative Rho-kinase (P<0.05, n=4). Among the proinflammatory cytokines examined, those of macrophage migration inhibitory factor, interferon-γ, and transforming growth factor-β1 were upregulated in the control group and were dose-dependently inhibited in the fasudil group (P<0.01, n=5). Vascular inflammation in the allografts, as evidenced by accumulation of inflammatory cells (macrophages and T cells), was also significantly inhibited in the fasudil group (P<0.05, n= 5 to 10). These results indicate that long-term treatment with fasudil suppresses CAV in mice, suggesting that Rho-kinase is an important therapeutic target for the prevention of CAV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-52
Number of pages7
JournalCirculation research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 09-01-2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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