30 June 2004
Background: The α<sub>4</sub>β<sub>1</sub> integrin (VLA-4) supports rolling and firm adhesion of leukocytes to inflamed tissues via ligation of VCAM-1 or fibronectin expressed on the activated endothelium. We tested the hypothesis that VLA-4 mediates leukocyte recruitment and neointimal growth after arterial injury in the atherosclerosis-prone apolipoprotein E (ApoE)-deficient mouse. Methods: ApoE (–/–) mice fed a Western diet underwent air desiccation injury, and the expression patterns of VLA-4 and VCAM-1 were determined by immunohistochemistry (IHC). To determine the effect of targeted VLA-4 blockade on leukocyte recruitment and neointimal growth, ApoE (–/–) mice received an intraperitoneal injection of a VLA-4 neutralizing monoclonal antibody (PS/2) at the time of injury alone or over a prolonged administration course. Additional mice received an isotype control antibody. Results: IHC demonstrated a marked increase in VLA-4 expression 7 days following injury. Prolonged administration of PS/2 resulted in a 72% reduction (p < 0.02) in neointimal growth 28 days following injury. IHC revealed a marked 95% reduction in neutrophil recruitment at 7 days and a 48% reduction in macrophage recruitment 28 days following injury with prolonged PS/2 administration. Conclusions: Prolonged VLA-4 blockade reduces leukocyte recruitment and neointimal growth following air desiccation injury in ApoE (–/–) mice. These findings demonstrate an important role for VLA-4 in the response to arterial injury.