Remodelling of the zero-stress state and residual strains in apoE-deficient mouse aorta

Hans Gregersen, Jingbo Zhao, Xiao Lu, Ji Zhou, Erling Falk
Biorheology 2007, 44 (2): 75-89
Atherosclerosis is the most frequent cause of death and severe chronic disability in North America and Europe. The atherosclerosis-prone apolipoprotein E (apoE)-deficient mice contain the entire spectrum of lesions observed during atherogenesis. Significant remodelling of the artery occurs in atherosclerosis. The aim was to study the remodelling of the zero-stress state of the aorta in apoE-deficient mice up to 56 weeks of age. Normal wild-type mice served as control groups. The mice were euthanised at ages 10, 28 and 56 weeks and tissue rings where excised from several locations along the aorta. The rings where photographed in the no-load state (without any external forces applied), then cut radially to obtain the zero-stress state and photographed again. The cross-sectional wall area and wall thickness increased over time in apoE-deficient mice compared to controls (P<0.001). The residual strains at the inner and outer surface varied as function of aortic location both in controls and apoE-deficient mice (P<0.001). From age 28 to age 56 weeks a gradual increase in positive strain at the outer surface and negative strain at the inner surface was found in the apoE-deficient mice when compared to age-matched control mice (P<0.001). Furthermore, the inner residual strain in the plaque location was significantly smaller than in the non-plaque location in the rings with atherosclerotic plaques (P<0.001). The change over time of the opening angle was especially pronounced in the aortic arch. The opening angle increased to app. 200 degrees in the aortic arch in apoE-deficient mice at 56 weeks of age whereas it in age-matched controls was app. 125 degrees. Correspondingly, atherosclerotic plaques were prominent in the apoE-deficient mice, especially at week 56 in the ascending aorta and the aortic arch. In conclusion, a pronounced remodelling of the biomechanical properties in aorta was found in apoE-deficient mice. The stress gradient across the vessel wall in the plaque region is likely larger in vivo due to the smaller residual strain in the plaque area.

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