Does platelet-derived growth factor-A chain stimulate proliferation of arterial mesenchymal cells in human atherosclerotic plaques?
Previous studies have indicated the focal presence of growth factors and focal low levels of cell proliferation in human atherosclerotic plaques. Using human carotid plaques and an antibody to platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-A chain, we have begun to assess growth factor significance by spatially correlating growth factor gene expression with actual cell proliferation. Since PDGF is a mitogen for smooth muscle and related cells and since inflammatory cells (eg, macrophages) can also proliferate in these lesions, it was important to exclude inflammatory cell proliferation from this consideration. Therefore, we have used a triple immunolabeling approach, combining the above anti-PDGF-A chain antibody with an inflammatory cell cocktail (CD68+CD45 for monocyte/macrophages and lymphocytes) and adding an anti-proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) antibody to mark proliferating cells. In the carotid atherosclerotic plaques, PDGF immunostaining was distributed focally, preferentially in the fibrous cap and vascularized regions, and was present in two distinct patterns: cytoplasmic and diffuse extracellular staining. When we considered colocalization within the same cells, cytoplasmic PDGF-A staining did not appear to colocalize with inflammatory markers. PCNA nuclear staining combined with PDGF cytoplasmic staining of the same cell was detected extremely rarely. Considering colocalization within the same microscopic fields, PDGF-A staining was detected more frequently than noninflammatory PCNA positivity. Quantitative logistic regression analysis demonstrated that localization in vascularized regions and (independently) the presence of PDGF-A are good predictors of noninflammatory cell proliferation, within the same microscopic fields. Therefore, PDGF-A and other factors especially associated with vascularized regions may be involved in the regulation of mesenchymal cell proliferation in human atherosclerotic plaques.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association