Inflammation occurring consequent to vessel injury is thought to play an important role in atherosclerosis and restenosis. Autoimmunity to HSP65 has been shown to accelerate early atherogenesis in rabbits and mice, whereas in humans epidemiological data support this contention. In the current study we explored the possibility of HSP65 influencing the extent of neointimal growth in the rat carotid injury model.
Rats were either immunized with recombinant mycobacterial HSP65, heat killed preparation of mycobacterium tuberculosis (MT), or with PBS, all emulsified in incomplete Freund's adjuvant. Animals were boosted with a similar protocol 3 weeks following the primary immunization and two weeks later carotid injury was applied in all animals by balloon inflation. Upon sacrifice two weeks later, sera were obtained for measurement of anti-HSP65 antibodies by ELISA, splenocytes were assessed for proliferative response to in vitro priming with HSP65, and carotid arteries were removed for evaluation of neointimal growth.
Rats immunized with HSP65 exhibited a brisk and sustained humoral immune response to HSP65, and cellular immunity was also evident by thymidine uptake to splenocytes primed with the respective protein. Neointimal/medial ratio was significantly increased in HSP65 immunized rats, in comparison with MT injected and control animals.
In conclusion, immunity to HSP65 can play a role in accelerating restenosis following arterial injury. These results should be further investigated in humans as they may provide a possible link between infections and restenosis/accelerated arteriosclerosis.