Effects of pravastatin on chronic rejection of rat cardiac allografts

Melinda A. Maggard, K. E. Bibo, Tao Wang, Fady Kaldas, Philip Seu, Ronald W. Busuttil, David K. Imagawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background. Pravastatin, a 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor, inhibits coronary transplant vasculopathy in the clinical setting. To further delineate the immune modulatory effect of this agent, it was tested in a rat cardiac transplant model of chronic rejection. Methods. Rat heterotopic abdominal cardiac transplants were performed using a Lewis to Fischer 344 combination. Fischer 344 recipients received a brief course of cyclosporine to decrease the incidence of acute rejection. Experimental groups were treated with either high-dose (10 mg/kg) or low- dose (5 mg/kg) pravastatin for 120 days, while a control group did not receive pravastatin. The effect of pravastatin on chronic rejection of cardiac allografts was analyzed by histology, and the expression of laminin, fibronectin, macrophages, and T cells was assessed by immunohistochemistry. Results. Coronary transplant vasculopathy was inhibited in both groups of pravastatin-treated animals, as compared with controls. Immunohistochemistry revealed that control animals had degraded laminin and fibronectin which paralleled the degree of tissue necrosis. In contrast, pravastatin-treated animals had modest amounts of extracellular matrix proteins retained within intermyocytes and endothelium, a pattern seen in native cardiac tissue. The pravastatin-treated groups also had fewer graft-infiltrating macrophages, specifically within the arterial intima and perivascular areas. Conclusions. Progressive chronic vascular rejection, a leading cause of allograft failure, can be inhibited by pravastatin in a well-defined rat cardiac transplant model. Pravastatin appears to inhibit the synthesis and subsequent degradation of extracellular matrix proteins and block the infiltration of macrophages to the graft, which emphasizes that this inflammatory cell plays a major role in the pathogenesis of transplant chronic rejection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-155
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 27 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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