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  • Author or Editor: Alan S. Boulos x
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Elad I. Levy, Alan S. Boulos, Ricardo A. Hanel, Fermin O. Tio, Ronald A. Alberico, Mary Duffy Fronckowiak, Balazs Nemes, Ann Marie Paciorek, Lee R. Guterman and L. Nelson Hopkins

Object. No animal model currently exists for the examination of time-dependent histological changes occurring in intracranial vessels after endoluminal stent placement. The authors' goal was to develop a reproducible in vivo model of stent implantation in intracranial vessels in dogs that was capable of demonstrating stent-related vascular changes after the implantation of coated and uncoated devices.

Methods. The authors implanted heparin-coated or uncoated stents in the basilar arteries (BAs) of 11 mongrel dogs. In a 12th animal, one coated stent was implanted in the BA and a second uncoated one was implanted in the distal anterior spinal artery. All the devices were oversized to induce intimal injury. Surviving animals were observed for 12 weeks, after which they underwent repeated angiography before planned death and removal of the brain. Histological studies and computer-assisted morphometric analyses were conducted on stent-treated and untreated sections of the BAs to assess the percentage of stenosis, neointimal proliferation, vessel injury, and inflammation. Perforating vessels partially covered by stent struts (“jailing”) were studied for evidence of stenosis or occlusion. The pathologist, interventionists, histopathologist, histopathology technicians, and radiologist were blinded to the stent type.

Seven stents (three uncoated and four coated) were removed from the six animals that were observed during the follow-up period. The mean neointimal proliferation was 0.42 mm2 in the group treated with uncoated stents and 0.18 mm2 in the group treated with heparin-coated devices (p = 0.04). Neointimal thickness was significantly increased in the group with uncoated stents (p = 0.04). The mean percentage of occlusion was less (12%) in the group with heparin-coated stents, compared with 22% in the group with uncoated devices (p = 0.07). When comparing results between the heparin-coated and uncoated devices implanted in the five animals that received a single stent only, greater differences (indicating a benefit from heparin-coated stents) were observed in neointimal area (p = 0.009), neointima/media ratio (p = 0.001), neointimal thickness (p = 0.002), and percentage of occlusion (p = 0.009). All brainstem perforating vessels covered by stent struts remained patent.

Conclusions. This in vivo intracranial stent model was developed to assess proliferative and inflammatory responses to endoluminal stent implantation in the cerebrovasculature. The results indicate that a lower percentage of occlusion occurs 12 weeks after implantation of heparin-coated compared with uncoated stents.

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Elad I. Levy, Ricardo A. Hanel, Jay U. Howington, Balazs Nemes, Alan S. Boulos, Fermin O. Tio, Ann Marie Paciorek, Shoaib Amlani, Kathleen S. Kagan-Hallett, Mary Duffy Fronckowiak, Lee R. Guterman and L. Nelson Hopkins

Object. Use of the sirolimus-eluting stent has led to a reduction of in-stent stenosis following treatment of coronary atherosclerosis, whereas treatment of intracranial atherosclerosis with bare-metal stents results in excessive restenosis rates of approximately 40%. Neurotoxicity effects and vessel injury are unknown in the cerebral vasculature. To assess the safety profile and vascular effects of sirolimus-coated stents, the authors conducted a prospective comparative study in which drug-eluting and bare-metal stents were implanted in the canine basilar artery (BA).

Methods. Sixteen mongrel dogs were randomized (eight animals per group) to receive either bare-metal 1.5 × 8—mm (six-cell) stents or sirolimus-eluting stents of the same dimensions. Interventionists, histopathologists, and histopathology technicians who participated in the study were blinded to the stent characteristics. Stents were implanted in the canine BA. Serial peripheral blood samples were obtained during the 1st week after implantation to determine the time-dependent serum concentration of sirolimus. Follow-up angiographic studies were performed 30 days after stent implantation to assess the effects of stent placement on the BA and brainstem perforating vessels. Explantation of the stent and BA was performed immediately after angiography by using a pressurized formalin fixation procedure. Histological and computer-assisted morphometric analyses of specimens obtained in each animal were performed.

Sirolimus could not be detected in peripheral blood samples obtained later than 24 hours posttreatment. On follow-up angiography, all perforating vessels observed on initial angiograms remained patent, and no evidence of parent vessel damage or pseudoaneurysm formation was observed. Explanted vessels and brainstem sections did not demonstrate evidence of histological neurotoxicity, such as gliosis or infarction. No significant differences were found in the time to endothelialization of bare-metal and sirolimus-coated stents. Smooth-muscle cell (SMC) proliferation, the putative agent for restenosis, was lower in animals receiving sirolimus-coated stents (p = 0.003). Additionally, intimal fibrin density was increased in the dogs treated with sirolimus-coated stents (p < 0.0001). Histological evidence of an inflammatory response demonstrated a trend toward a reduced response in the sirolimus group (mean 0.58) compared with the bare-metal group (mean 0.83, p = 0.33).

Conclusions. No neurotoxic effects were observed in the intracranial vessel walls or brainstem tissue in which sirolimus-coated stents were implanted. Compared with bare-metal stents, the sirolimus-coated devices did not impair endothelialization and, furthermore, tended to reduce the proliferation of SMCs. These findings indicate that sirolimus-coated devices may inhibit in-stent stenosis. Further studies with longer-term follow up are required to assess the restenosis rates of sirolimus-coated stents implanted in the intracranial vasculature.