Research Summary: Anti-Thymocyte Globulin Induces Neoangiogenesis and Preserves Cardiac Function after Experimental Myocardial Infarction



Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) followed by ventricular remodeling is the major cause of congestive heart failure and death in western world countries.


Of relevance are reports showing that infusion of apoptotic leucocytes or anti-lymphocyte serum after AMI reduces myocardial necrosis and preserves cardiac function. In order to corroborate this therapeutic mechanism, the utilization of an immunosuppressive agent with a comparable mechanism, such as anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) was evaluated in this study.

Methods and Results

AMI was induced in rats by ligation of the left anterior descending artery. Initially after the onset of ischemia, rabbit ATG (10 mg/rat) was injected intravenously. In vitro and in vivo experiments showed that ATG induced a pronounced release of pro-angiogenic and chemotactic factors. Moreover, paracrine factors released from ATG co-incubated cell cultures conferred a down-regulation of p53 in cardiac myocytes. Rats that were injected with ATG evidenced higher numbers of CD68+ macrophages in the ischemic myocardium. Animals injected with ATG evidenced less myocardial necrosis, showed a significant reduction of infarct dimension and an improvement of post-AMI remodeling after six weeks (infarct dimension 24.9% vs. 11.4%, p<0.01). Moreover, a higher vessel density in the peri-infarct region indicated a better collateralization in rats that were injected with ATG.


These data indicate that ATG, a therapeutic agent successfully applied in clinical transplant immunology, triggered cardioprotective effects after AMI that salvaged ischemic myocardium by down-regulation of p53. This might have raised the resistance against apoptotic cell death during ischemia. The combination of these mechanisms seems to be causative for improved cardiac function and less ventricular remodeling after experimental AMI.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 20-December-2012

Author(s): Lichtenauer M., Mildner M., Werba G., Beer L., Hoetzenecker K., Baumgartner A., Hasun M., Nickl S., Mitterbauer A., Zimmermann M., Gyöngyösi M., Podesser B., Klepetko W., Ankersmit H.


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