OBJECTIVESThe goal of this study was to evaluate the ability of recombinant human thrombomodulin (rTM) to inhibit neointimal hyperplasia when bound to expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) stent grafts placed in a porcine balloon injured carotid artery model.METHODSThe left carotid artery of male pigs, weighing 25 to 30 Kg, was injured with an angioplasty balloon. Two weeks later either a non-coated standard ePTFE stent graft (Viabahn, 6 x 25 mm, W. L. Gore & Associates) or a rTM coated stent graft was implanted into the balloon-injured segment using an endovascular technique. Carotid angiography was performed at the time of the balloon injury, two weeks later and then at 4 weeks to assess the degree of luminal stenosis. One month after stent graft deployment, the grafts were explanted following in situ perfusion fixation for histological analysis. The specimens were then cross-sectioned into proximal, middle and distal segments, and the residual arterial lumen and intimal to media (I/M) ratios were calculated with computerized planimetry.RESULTSrTM binding onto ePTFE-grafts was confirmed by functional activation of protein C and histopathology with immuno-scanning electron microscopy, backscatter electron emission imaging and x-ray microanalysis. All seven of the rTM coated stent grafts and six of the seven uncoated stent grafts were patent at the time of explantation. The mean luminal diameter of the rTM coated stents was 93% +/- 2.0% of the original diameter, compared with 67% +/- 23% (P = .006) in the control group. Histological analysis demonstrated that the area obliterated by intimal hyperplasia at the proximal portion of the rTM stent was -27% compared with the control group: (2.73 +/- 0.69 mm(2), vs 3.47 +/- 0.67 mm(2), P CONCLUSIONSNeointimal hyperplasia is significantly inhibited in ePTFE stent grafts coated with rTM compared with uncoated grafts, as documented by improved luminal diameter by angiography and by computerized planimetry measurements of residual lumen area. These findings suggest that binding of recombinant human thrombomodulin onto ePTFE grafts may improve the long-term patency of covered stents grafts.CLINICAL RELEVANCEDecrease of neointimal hyperplasia of the magnitude observed in this study could significantly improve blood flow and patency of small caliber prosthetic grafts. If the durability of these results can be confirmed by long-term studies, this technique may prove useful in preventing graft stenosis and arterial thrombosis following angioplasty or vascular bypass procedures.