Effect of coarctation on matrix content of experimental aortic atherosclerosis: relation to location, plaque size and blood pressure

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      Cynomolgus monkeys were fed an atherogenic diet for 6 months following surgically produced high-grade (n = 10) or mild (n = 16) mid-thoracic aortic coarctation. A diet-control (DC) group (n = 13) was fed the diet without coarctation. High-grade coarctation (HGC) resulted in 74.1% ± 8.3% stenosis by aortography prior to sacrifice and was associated with systolic brachial blood pressures of 143.3 ± 26.0 mmHg and gradients across the stenoses of 36.8 ± 23.6 mmHg. Mild coarctation (MC) resulted in stenoses of 50.9% ± 12.9%, brachial systolic pressures of 119.4 ± 25.7 and gradients of 12.5 ± 15.2 mm Hg (P < 0.01, P = 0.03 and P < 0.005, respectively, compared with HGC). When total plaque cross-sectional area exceeded 0.8 mmz, the entire arterial circumference was usually involved. HGC resulted in complete sparing or minimal plaque formation in sections distal to the stenoses compared with proximal sections (P < 0.001). There were no significant differences between MC and DC animals in plaque location or size. Matrix content increased with plaque area regardless of degree of stenosis or sampling level (P < 0.01), but lesions with more than 75% matrix content were more numerous in distal than in proximal sections despite their smaller size. The number of plaques with greater than 75% matrix content was increased proximal to HGC (P < 0.04). Thus, distal location and plaque size were independent determinants of plaque matrix content and matrix content was increased proximal to HGC regardless of plaque size. Attempts to evaluate effects of various regimens and interventions on plaque composition need to take location and plaque size, as well as blood pressure differences, into account.


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