Immunomodulation of vascular endothelium. 1. Ultrastructural changes following ultraviolet B irradiation of peripheral veins

Michael L. Marin, Ronald E. Gordon, Mark A. Hardy, Keith Reemtsma, Alan I. Benvenisty

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3 Scopus citations


Immunologic function of endothelial cells is especially important in consideration of vein allografting for arterial reconstruction and in organ allotransplantation. Ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) has previously been shown to modulate graft immunogenicity, and to alter cell surface receptor function. In this study, superficial epigastric veins were UVB irradiated with 10, 24, 40, 80, and 150 mJ/cm2 while control veins were not irradiated; all specimens were examined for endothelial ultrastructural changes. Veins were perfuse-fixed at 1, 3, 7, 14, and 28 days after irradiation, and were evaluated by transmission electron microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Control veins had a normal appearing endothelial lining, composed of elongated, attenuated endothelial cells. Veins irradiated with more than 24 mJ/cm2 displayed injured endothelial cells characterized by altered microvilli, defects in the cell surface, and a change in cell shape. The degree of cell damage correlated closely with increasing UVB dose. At doses of 80 mJ/cm2 or greater there was moderate to severe endothelial cell separation from the underlying basement membrane and an increase in cellular lysosomes. The effects of UVB were maximal at 3 days with virtual recovery in resurfacing of all specimens with endothelium 28 days after irradiation. These data suggest that UVB has a dose-dependent effect on venous endothelium that is morphologically reversible with time. Cell membrane changes seen following exposure to UVB may contribute to altered cell surface receptor function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-143
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1990


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