JOURNAL ARTICLE

Elevated uptake of plasma macromolecules by regions of arterial wall predisposed to plaque instability in a mouse model

Zahra Mohri, Ethan M Rowland, Lindsey A Clarke, Amalia De Luca, Véronique Peiffer, Rob Krams, Spencer J Sherwin, Peter D Weinberg
PloS One 2014, 9 (12): e115728
25531765
Atherosclerosis may be triggered by an elevated net transport of lipid-carrying macromolecules from plasma into the arterial wall. We hypothesised that whether lesions are of the thin-cap fibroatheroma (TCFA) type or are less fatty and more fibrous depends on the degree of elevation of transport, with greater uptake leading to the former. We further hypothesised that the degree of elevation can depend on haemodynamic wall shear stress characteristics and nitric oxide synthesis. Placing a tapered cuff around the carotid artery of apolipoprotein E -/- mice modifies patterns of shear stress and eNOS expression, and triggers lesion development at the upstream and downstream cuff margins; upstream but not downstream lesions resemble the TCFA. We measured wall uptake of a macromolecular tracer in the carotid artery of C57bl/6 mice after cuff placement. Uptake was elevated in the regions that develop lesions in hyperlipidaemic mice and was significantly more elevated where plaques of the TCFA type develop. Computational simulations and effects of reversing the cuff orientation indicated a role for solid as well as fluid mechanical stresses. Inhibiting NO synthesis abolished the difference in uptake between the upstream and downstream sites. The data support the hypothesis that excessively elevated wall uptake of plasma macromolecules initiates the development of the TCFA, suggest that such uptake can result from solid and fluid mechanical stresses, and are consistent with a role for NO synthesis. Modification of wall transport properties might form the basis of novel methods for reducing plaque rupture.

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