Abstract 476: Shear Stress-induced Atherosclerotic Plaque Regression is Reversed by Regulation of Macrophage Mobility via Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibition
Atherosclerotic plaques form in regions of low blood flow, whereas vessels exposed to high shear stress remain lesion-free. We hypothesized that exposing established atherosclerotic plaques to elevated shear stress leads to lesion regression by facilitating inflammatory cell movement within the plaque. We developed a model of arteriovenous fistula (AVF) in mice, where the right carotid artery is anastomosed into the jugular vein. LDLR-/- mice were placed on a high-fat diet. Control mice were sacrificed at week 12, which coincided with sham and AVF surgery. Sham and AVF mice were kept on a high-fat diet for a further 4 weeks. This procedure increases the shear stress in the brachiocephalic artery (BCA) and leads to a 51% plaque regression in AVF. All groups had comparable lipid levels. However, BCA plaque macrophage, smooth muscle cell and collagen content was halved in AVF. We observed greater gelatinase activity in plaques of AVF mice, suggesting a role for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in plaque regression. MMP-9 and MMP-3 expression was increased in AVF plaques whereas MMP-2 and MMP-14 expression was decreased (p<0.05). A separate group of mice was therefore treated post-surgery with an MMP inhibitor, doxycycline, or with a TIMP-1 over-expressing plasmid. Both prevented the reduction in plaque size in the AVF group. To better define the mechanism of plaque regression in the AVF, we devised an endothelial cell (EC)-macrophage co-culture system where the ECs were exposed to high, low or no shear stress, and macrophages exposed to the EC effluent. There was a 2.5 fold increase in the migration of macrophages exposed to high shear effluent vs. low shear (p<0.05). This coincided with a 3-fold increase in the number of macrophages expressing activated β1 integrin in the high shear conditions. Uptake of apoptotic cells by macrophages was also 25% higher in the high shear vs. static (p<0.05). When repeated using the MMP inhibitor, GM6001, the high shear increase in migration was blocked in the presence of MMP inhibition; however, it had no effect on cell phagocytosis. Our findings suggest that shear stress acting on ECs may influence the cells within the plaque by increasing MMP activity allowing for better macrophage motility, an important feature of regressing plaques.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.