To elucidate the source of neointimal cells, experimental fistulas were created in Lewis wild-type (WT) and transgenic rats that constitutively expressed the green fluorescent protein (GFP) in all tissues. Arteriovenous fistula (AVFs) were created by anastomosing the left renal vein to the abdominal aorta. The contribution of bone marrow (BM)-derived cells to the AVF neointima was examined in lethally irradiated WT rats that had been rescued with GFP BM cells. Neointimal cells in these chimeric rats were mostly GFP negative indicating the non-BM origin of those cells. Then, the contribution of arterial cells to the AVF neointima was assessed in a fistula made with a GFP aorta that had been implanted orthotopically into a WT rat. Most of the neointimal cells were also GFP negative demonstrating that AVF neointimal cells are not derived from the feeding artery. Finally to study local resident cells contribution to the formation of neointimal lesions, a composite fistula was created by interposing a GFP vein between the renal vein and the aorta in a WT recipient rat. GFP neointimal cells were only found in the transplanted vein. This study suggests that neointimal cells originate from the local resident cells in the venous limb of the fistula.
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