We performed an animal experiment with an emphasis on time-related histopathologic changes to evaluate the clinical feasibility of immunologically nontreated xenogenic vascular grafts. Bilateral porcine carotid arteries were harvested, and then, after short-term freezing at -70°C, interposed into goats' carotid arteries. An antiplatelet agent was administered orally for 3 months postoperatively. The goats were randomly assigned to five periods of observation (1 week, and 1,3,6, and 12 months after implantation); two animals were observed at each of these times. Doppler ultrasonography was performed periodically during the observation period. At predetermined times, grafts were explained and examined using hematoxylin and eosin, and Masson's trichrome stains. Immunohistochemical evaluations were conducted with T-lymphocyte indicator and von Willebrand factor. Two goats died prematurely, one from respiratory problems related to anesthesia and the other from pneumonia. A total of 16 grafts from the remaining eight animals were evaluated. Grafts were all patent except one at 3 months after transplantation. Histologically, xenogenic arterial grafts showed early endothelial cell loss at 1 week. This was followed by a progressive spread of recipient endothelial cells from the anastomotic site, and re-endothelialization was complete at 1 month. The degree of neointimal and medial thickening increased until 3 months, and then decreased. At 12 months, no additional growth of the intimai or medial layers was observed. Adventitial inflammation became severe at 3 months, but was reduced at 6-12 months. The proportions of CD3-positive T-lymphocytes among inflammatory cell infiltrations were very low. Fresh frozen xenogenic arterial grafts showed acceptable patency throughout the 12-month period and showed no evidence of being unduly influenced by rejection reactions.
- Vascular xenograft