Background: Early strut coverage after sirolimus-eluting stent (SES) implantation is associated with the activation of inflammation, but the underlying mechanisms are not completely understood. The present study aimed to identify the relationship between the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL) 35 (IL-35) and early strut coverage in vivo and in vitro.

Methods: We utilized a retrospective study design to measure IL-35 levels in 68 stents from 68 patients with coronary artery disease and recorded serial optical coherence tomography (OCT) images (0 and 3 months) to assess stent endothelialization. The mechanism underlying the regulatory effects of IL-35 on macrophages and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) was also investigated. SESs were surgically implanted into the right common carotid arteries of 200 male New Zealand White rabbits receiving intravenous injections of IL-35 or a placebo.

Results: At the 3-month OCT evaluation, complete endothelium coverage was correlated with IL-35 levels. IL-35 induced the activation of an anti-inflammatory M2-like macrophage phenotype by targeting the signal transducer and activators of transcription (STAT)1/4 signalling pathway, and IL-35-treated macrophages induced endothelial proliferation and alleviated endothelial dysfunction. IL-35-treated New Zealand White rabbits with implanted SESs showed lower percentages of cross-sections with an uncovered strut, elevated mean neointimal hyperplasia (NIH) thickness, and inhibited inflammatory responses.

Conclusions: We investigated the effect of IL-35 expression on early stent endothelialization in vivo and in vitro and identified a crucial role for IL-35 in inducing the activation of an anti-inflammatory M2-like macrophage phenotype. The present study highlights a new therapeutic strategy for early stent endothelialization.

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