Apoptosis and cellular activation in the pathogenesis of acute vascular rejection

Zoie E. Holzknecht, Karisha L. Kuypers, Timothy B. Plummer, Josie Williams, Matilda Bustos, Gregory J. Gores, Gregory J. Brunn, Jeffrey L. Platt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Acute vascular or humoral rejection, a vexing outcome of organ transplantation, has been attributed by some to activation and by others to apoptosis of endothelial cells in the graft. We asked which of these processes causes acute vascular rejection by tracing the processes during the development of acute vascular rejection in porcine cardiac xenografts performed in baboons. Apoptosis, assayed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL), expression of activated caspase-3, and proapoptotic genes Bax and Bcl-xL, was not detected until acute vascular rejection was well advanced, and even then, apoptosis was largely confined to myocytes. Activation of the endothelium, as evidenced by expansion of rough endoplasmic reticulum and increased ribosomal antigen and phospho-p70 S6 kinase, occurred early in the course of acute vascular rejection and progressed through the disease process. These findings suggest that acute vascular rejection is caused by an active metabolic process and not by apoptosis in the endothelium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1135-1141
Number of pages7
JournalCirculation research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Apoptosis
  • Cardiac transplantation
  • Endothelial cells
  • Xenotransplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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