ApoE-deficient mice are a model of lipoprotein oxidation in atherogenesis. Demonstration of oxidation-specific epitopes in lesions and high titers of autoantibodies to malondialdehyde-lysine in serum.
Apolipoprotein (apo) E-deficient transgenic mice develop marked hyperlipidemia and progressive atherosclerotic lesions. To explore whether oxidative modification of lipoproteins is involved in atherogenesis in this murine model, we performed extensive immunocytochemical studies. Atherosclerotic lesions ranging from early fatty streaks to very advanced plaques were examined from the aortic valve region and the thoracic and abdominal aorta. Using guinea pig antisera against malondialdehyde (MDA)-lysine and 4-hydroxynonenal-lysine, two epitopes generated during the oxidative modification of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), we demonstrated the presence of these "oxidation-specific epitopes" in atherosclerotic lesions. In early lesions, oxidation-specific epitopes were found predominantly in macrophage-rich areas, whereas diffuse extracellular staining predominated in necrotic areas of advanced lesions. We have previously shown that autoantibodies against MDA-lysine are present in the circulation of humans and rabbits and that the immunoglobulin fraction extracted from their lesions contains autoantibodies against several "oxidation-specific" epitopes. Sera from apoE-deficient mice also contained circulating autoantibodies to MDA-lysine, and both early and advanced lesions were rich in murine immunoglobulins. Titers of serum autoantibodies were significantly higher in apoE-deficient mice than in C57BL/6 mice. Autoantibodies in murine plasma recognized MDA-lysine epitopes in atherosclerotic lesions of rabbits, and the immunostaining was competitively inhibited by excess human MDA-LDL. Similar findings were obtained by competitive radioimmunoassay. Finally, a morphometric technique was developed and tested in these mice that allows a quantitative assessment of aortic atherosclerosis. These findings suggest that in apoE-deficient mice, lipoprotein oxidation is involved in atherogenesis and that these transgenic mice constitute an appropriate model with which to study the antiatherogenic effect of antioxidant intervention.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association