Reendothelialization in the aneurysm neck is pivotal to vascular repair for intracranial aneurysm after flow diverter (FD) implantation. Recombinant human stromal cell-derived factor 1α (rhSDF-1α) is a vital chemoattractant to stem cells and potentially facilitates reendothelialization. Here, we sought to investigate the therapeutic effects of intravenous administration of rhSDF-1α and uncover its potential mechanism for promoting aneurysm neck reendothelialization. Recombinant pET32a-186 plasmid was transformed into Escherichia coli to produce the rhSDF-1α protein with biological activity. FD was implanted into the elastase-induced saccular aneurysm in New Zealand white rabbits. rhSDF-1α (50 μg/kg/day) was intravenously administrated for consecutive 7 days after FD implantation. After these procedures, aneurysms were harvested after 2 or 4 weeks. Scanning electron microscopy was used to measure the neointima thickness and count the endothelial-like cells at aneurysm neck. Four weeks later, the mRNA levels of endothelial markers in the neointima at aneurysm neck were examined. Migration assay showed that rhSDF-1α could induce migration of endothelial progenitor cells in a dose-dependent manner. Two weeks after stent implantation, follow-up angiography showed partial aneurysm occlusion in one of each group and total aneurysm occlusion in 17 saccular aneurysm rabbits (9 of the rhSDF-1α group and 8 of the control group). No significant change of neointima thickness at aneurysm neck was observed. Intriguingly, more endothelial-like cells were observed at aneurysm neck in the rhSDF-1α group at 2 weeks (55 vs 13 cells per high-power field) and 4 weeks (104 vs 60 cells per high-power field). The mRNA levels of Tie-2, VE-cadherin, KDR and E-selectin were significantly enhanced compared with those of the control group. These results showed that intravenous administration of rhSDF-1α can accelerate reendothelialization in the aneurysm neck after FD implantation. Our study reveals an important role of rhSDF-1α in inducing aneurysm occlusion and suggests that it achieves its function through modulating the reendothelialization.

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