Vascular reactivity during the progression of atherosclerotic plaque. A study in Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic rabbits.
The effects of varying degrees of atherosclerotic plaque on vascular responsiveness in aortas of Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbits and New Zealand White (normal cholesterolemic) rabbits were studied. Ring segments from the aortic arch and thoracic aorta were mounted in organ chambers for isometric tension recording and measurement of endothelium-derived relaxing factor. WHHL rabbits were divided into three groups according to age: group 1, 3-5 months; group 2, 6-9 months; and group 3, 12-14 months. Atherosclerotic changes (expressed as a percent of total surface area) in the aortic arches in groups 1, 2, and 3 were 11 +/- 3% (mild), 28 +/- 6% (moderate), and 54 +/- 8% (severe) respectively; only occasional plaques were present in the thoracic aorta in all groups. Maximal contractions elicited with phenylephrine progressively decreased with increasing degrees of atherosclerotic plaque. Contractions evoked by histamine were augmented in all groups of WHHL rabbits when compared with controls, whereas those to serotonin were augmented only in vessels with mild atherosclerosis. As the severity of the intimal lesions increased, endothelium-dependent relaxations to acetylcholine, ATP, and calcium ionophore A23187 progressively decreased. Endothelium-independent relaxation to nitroglycerin was virtually complete in all segments. However, vessels with severe atherosclerosis were less sensitive to this agent as illustrated by a significant increase in the ED50 value. Scanning electron microscopy revealed a predominant loss of endothelial cells in the central regions of fibrous plaques. Thus, in WHHL rabbits, hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis result in an increased responsiveness of vascular smooth muscle to histamine and serotonin. Endothelium-mediated relaxation of vascular smooth muscle is reduced with the progression of atherosclerosis primarily due to a loss of endothelial cells.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association