BACKGROUND - Biodegradable polymers have been applied as bulk or coating materials for coronary artery stents. The degradation of polymers, however, could induce endothelial dysfunction and aggravate neointimal formation. Here we use polymeric microparticles to simulate and demonstrate the effects of degraded stent materials on phagocytic activity, cell death and dysfunction of macrophages and endothelial cells.
METHODS - Microparticles made of low molecular weight polyesters were incubated with human macrophages and coronary artery endothelial cells (ECs). Microparticle-induced phagocytosis, cytotoxicity, apoptosis, cytokine release and surface marker expression were determined by immunostaining or ELISA. Elastase expression was analyzed by ELISA and the elastase-mediated polymer degradation was assessed by mass spectrometry.
RESULTS - We demonstrated that poly(D,L-lactic acid) (PLLA) and polycaprolactone (PCL) microparticles induced cytotoxicity in macrophages and ECs, partially through cell apoptosis. The particle treatment alleviated EC phagocytosis, as opposed to macrophages, but enhanced the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1 along with decreased nitric oxide production, indicating that ECs were activated and lost their capacity to maintain homeostasis. The activation of both cell types induced the release of elastase or elastase-like protease, which further accelerated polymer degradation.
CONCLUSIONS - This study revealed that low molecule weight PLLA and PCL microparticles increased cytotoxicity and dysregulated endothelial cell function, which in turn enhanced elastase release and polymer degradation. These indicate that polymer or polymer-coated stents impose a risk of endothelial dysfunction after deployment which can potentially lead to delayed endothelialization, neointimal hyperplasia and late thrombosis.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.