Open Access Open Badges Research article

Effects of mycophenolate mofetil on key pattern of coronary restenosis: a cascade of in vitro and ex vivo models

Rainer Voisard1*, Sandra Viola1, Verena Kaspar1, Christian M Weber1, Lutz von Müller2, Regine Baur1, Iris Gastrock-Balitsch1 and Vinzenz Hombach1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine II – Cardiology, Institute of Mikrobiology and Immunology, University of Ulm, Germany

2 Department of Virology, Institute of Mikrobiology and Immunology, University of Ulm, Germany

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2005, 5:9  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-5-9

Published: 12 May 2005



Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), the prodrug of mycophenolic acid (MPA), is a rationally designed immunosuppressive drug. The current study investigates the effect of MMF on key pattern of restenosis in a cascade of in vitro and ex vivo models.


Part I of the study investigated in northern blot and cytoflow studies the effect of MMF (50, 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 μg/mL) on TNF-α induced expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) in human coronary endothelial cells (HCAEC) and human coronary medial smooth muscle cells (HCMSMC). Part II of the study applied a human coronary 3D model of leukocyte attack, the 3DLA-model. HCAEC and HCMSMC were cultured on both sides of a polycarbonate filters, mimicking the internal elastic membrane. Leukocyte attack (LA) was carried out by adding human monocytes (MC) on the endothelial side. The effect of MMF (50 μg/mL) on adhesion and chemotaxis (0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 24 h after LA) and the effect on proliferation of co-cultured HCMSMC (24 h after LA) was studied. In part III of the study a porcine coronary organ culture model of restenosis (POC-model) was used. After ex vivo ballooning MMF (50 μg/mL) was added to the cultures for a period of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 days. The effect on reactive cell proliferation and neointimal thickening was studied at day 7 and day 28 after ballooning.


Expression of ICAM-1 in northern blot and cytoflow studies was neither clearly inhibited nor stimulated after administration of MMF in the clinical relevant concentration of 50 μg/mL. In the 3DLA-model 50 μg/mL of MMF caused a significant antiproliferative effect (p < 0.001) in co-cultured HCMSMC but had no effect on MC-adhesion and MC-chemotaxis. In the ex vivo POC-model neighter reactive cell proliferation at day 7 nor neointimal hyperplasia at day 28 were significantly inhibited by MMF (50 μg/mL).


Thus, the data demonstrate a significant antiproliferative effect of clinical relevant levels of MMF (50 μg/mL) in the 3DLA-model. The antiproliferative effect was a direct antiproliferative effect that was not triggered via reduced expression of ICAM-1 or via an inhibition of MC-adhesion and chemotaxis. Probably due to technical limitations (as e.g. the missing of perfusion) the antiproliferative effect of MMF (50 μg/mL) could not be reproduced in the coronary organ culture model. A cascade of focused in vitro and ex vivo models may help to gather informations on drug effects before large experimental studies are initiated.