Chronic apoptosis of vascular smooth muscle cells accelerates atherosclerosis and promotes calcification and medial degeneration

Murray C H Clarke, Trevor D Littlewood, Nichola Figg, Janet J Maguire, Anthony P Davenport, Martin Goddard, Martin R Bennett
Circulation Research 2008 June 20, 102 (12): 1529-38
Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) accumulation is implicated in plaque development. In contrast, VSMC apoptosis is implicated in plaque rupture, coagulation, vessel remodeling, medial atrophy, aneurysm formation, and calcification. Although VSMC apoptosis accompanies multiple pathologies, there is little proof of direct causality, particularly with the low levels of VSMC apoptosis seen in vivo. Using a mouse model of inducible VSMC-specific apoptosis, we demonstrate that low-level VSMC apoptosis during either atherogenesis or within established plaques of apolipoprotein (Apo)E(-/-) mice accelerates plaque growth by two-fold, associated with features of plaque vulnerability including a thin fibrous cap and expanded necrotic core. Chronic VSMC apoptosis induced development of calcified plaques in younger animals and promoted calcification within established plaques. In addition, VSMC apoptosis induced medial expansion, associated with increased elastic lamina breaks, and abnormal matrix deposition reminiscent of cystic medial necrosis in humans. VSMC apoptosis prevented outward remodeling associated with atherosclerosis resulting in marked vessel stenosis. We conclude that VSMC apoptosis is sufficient to accelerate atherosclerosis, promote plaque calcification and medial degeneration, prevent expansive remodeling, and promote stenosis in atherosclerosis.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"