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J Immunol. 2000 Sep 15;165(6):3430-5.

Deficiency in inducible nitric oxide synthase results in reduced atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice.

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  • 1Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, NJ 07065, USA.


Inducible NO synthase (iNOS) present in human atherosclerotic plaques could contribute to the inflammatory process of plaque development. The role of iNOS in atherosclerosis was tested directly by evaluating the development of lesions in atherosclerosis-susceptible apolipoprotein E (apoE)-/- mice that were also deficient in iNOS. ApoE-/- and iNOS-/- mice were cross-bred to produce apoE-/-/iNOS-/- mice and apoE-/-/iNOS+/+ controls. Males and females were placed on a high fat diet at the time of weaning, and atherosclerosis was evaluated at two time points by different methods. The deficiency in iNOS had no effect on plasma cholesterol, triglyceride, or nitrate levels. Morphometric measurement of lesion area in the aortic root at 16 wk showed a 30-50% reduction in apoE-/-/iNOS-/- mice compared with apoE-/-/iNOS+/+ mice. Although the size of the lesions in apoE-/-/iNOS-/- mice was reduced, the lesions maintained a ratio of fibrotic:foam cell-rich:necrotic areas that was similar to controls. Biochemical measurements of aortic cholesterol in additional groups of mice at 22 wk revealed significant 45-70% reductions in both male and female apoE-/-/iNOS-/- mice compared with control mice. The results indicate that iNOS contributes to the size of atherosclerotic lesions in apoE-deficient mice, perhaps through a direct effect at the site of the lesion.

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