On the basis of animal models of arterial injury, smooth muscle cell proliferation has been posited as a dominant event in restenosis. Unfortunately, little is known about this proliferation in the human restenotic lesion. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent and time course of proliferation in primary and restenotic coronary atherectomy- derived tissue. Primary (n=118) and restenotic (n=100) coronary atherectomy specimens were obtained from 211 nonconsecutive patients. Immunocytochemistry for the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) was used to gauge proliferation in the atherectomy specimens. The identity of PCNA-positive cells was then determined using immunohistochemical cell-specific markers. Eighty-two percent of primary specimens and 74% of restenotic specimens had no evidence of PCNA labeling. The majority of the remaining specimens had only a modest number of PCNA-positive cells per slide (typically < 50 cells per slide). In the restenotic specimens, PCNA labeling was detected over a wide time interval after the initial procedure (eg, 1 to 390 days), with no obvious proliferative peak. Cell-specific immunohistochemical markers identified primary and restenotic PCNA-positive cells as smooth muscle cells, macrophages, and endothelial cells. In conclusion, the findings were as follows: (1) Proliferation in primary and restenotic coronary atherectomy specimens, as indicated by PCNA labeling, occurs infrequently and at low levels. (2) The response to injury in existing animal models of angioplasty may follow a very different course of events from the clinical reality in human atherosclerotic coronary arteries and may help explain why current approaches to restenosis therapy have been ineffective.
O’Brien, E. R., Alpers, C. E., Stewart, D. K., Ferguson, M., Tran, N., Gordon, D., … Schwartz, S. M. (1993). Proliferation in primary and restenotic coronary atherectomy tissue: Implications for antiproliferative therapy. Circulation Research, 73(2), 223–231. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.RES.73.2.223