Vascular endothelial cells (ECs) can be injured in a variety of pathologic processes that involve activated complement. We reported previously that porcine ECs incubated with exogenous IL-4 or IL-13 are protected from cytotoxicity by human complement and also from apoptosis by TNF-α. The resistance to complement consists of an intrinsic mechanism that is lost a few days after cytokine removal. In our current study, we investigated whether transfer of the IL-4 gene into porcine ECs in vitro and into porcine vascular tissues in vivo would induce efficient and durable protection from human complement. We found that ECs transduced with adenoIL-4 or adenoIL-13 exhibited continuous production of the cytokine and prolonged protection from complement-mediated killing. IL-4 also protected ECs from activation: ECs incubated with IL-4 did not develop cell retraction and intercellular gaps upon stimulation with sublytic complement. The endothelium and subendothelium of pig iliac arteries that were transduced with the IL-4 gene were effectively protected from complement-dependent immediate injury after perfusion with human blood. However, after similar perfusion, the endothelium was immediately lost from arteries that were transduced with a control adenovirus. The protection was not due to up-regulation of the complement regulators decay accelerating factor, membrane cofactor protein, and CD59, or to reduced complement activation, but required the participation of Akt. Although our studies model protection in pig-to-primate xenotransplantation, our findings of IL-4 induction of Akt-mediated protection may be more broadly applicable to EC injury as manifested in ischemia-reperfusion, allotransplantation, and various vascular diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy