Your Donations in Action: Steven Y. Huang, MD

Improving the Lives of Patients with End Stage Renal Disease

Steven Y Huang MD

Neointimal hyperplasia (NH) is responsible for failure of arteriovenous fistula (AVF) maturation in patients with chronic kidney disease who are on hemodialysis.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are anti-inflammatory and have been shown to reduce NH formation, but their efficacy may be limited by rapid washout.

Despite being the preferred form of vascular access for patients on hemodialysis, only approximately 40-60% of AVFs will be functional one year following access site creation. A resorbable polymer capable of supporting MSCs could mitigate the deleterious effects of inflammation on the maturing AVF.

In his 2020 RSNA Research Seed Grant project, “Development of a Bioresorbable Mesenchymal Stem Cell-loaded Radiopaque Polymer to Improve Rates of Arteriovenous Fistula Maturation and Long-term Patency,” Steven Y. Huang, MD, professor in the Department of Interventional Radiology, Division of Diagnostic Imaging, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues aimed to improve MSC delivery and survival.

Their work with Sprague Dawley rat models of chronic kidney disease involved the addition of a resorbable polymer scaffold laden with MSCs around the outflow vein of an AVF. The team successfully improved outward remodeling associated with AVF maturation and observed inhibition of NH, a key driver of AVF failure.

Although he is an interventional radiologist at a cancer center, Dr. Huang’s interest in hemodialysis is personal. “My father and grandmother were both on hemodialysis. My interest was born while watching my own family members struggle with access site patency,” Dr. Huang said.

With the assistance of the R&E grant, Dr. Huang was able to work with a multidisciplinary team of preclinical scientists and students to bring to light a potential application of resorbable polymers and MSCs to improve AVF maturation.

“Our R&E grant supplied the preliminary data that formed the basis for my co-investigator’s successful R01 from the NIH/NHLBI,” Dr. Huang said. “From a career perspective, it afforded me an incredible opportunity to perform pre-clinical work, which was central to my recent successful promotion to professor.”

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Read our previous Your Donations in Action article.