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Circulation. 2003 Dec 16;108(24):3017-23. Epub 2003 Nov 24.

Cyclooxygenase isoforms and platelet vessel wall interactions in the apolipoprotein E knockout mouse model of atherosclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Institute of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland 123, St Stephens Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.



Cyclooxygenase (COX) activity is induced in human atherosclerosis, and the products formed may modify the disease directly or through an effect on platelets. We examined the role of COX-1 and -2 on platelet vessel wall interactions and development of atherosclerosis in a murine model.


Apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE-/-) mice fed a 1% cholesterol diet were treated with a selective COX-1 inhibitor (SC-560), a selective COX-2 inhibitor (SC-236), or vehicle. Urinary prostacyclin and thromboxane metabolites (2,3-dinor-6-keto-PGF1alpha and 2,3-dinor-TXB2) were increased in the apoE-/- knockout mouse. There was also induction of both COX isoforms in the vascular lesions formed, which stained for CD41, a platelet-specific marker, and for CD40L. Selective inhibition of COX-2 had no effect on lesion formation and, despite selective reduction in prostacyclin generation, had no effect on platelet activity, as measured by thromboxane formation or platelet deposition. Selective inhibition of COX-1 reduced 2,3-dinor-TXB2 generation and lesion formation. However, platelet deposition on the vessel wall persisted, with well-defined monolayers seen. There was also persistent expression of the macrophage marker CD68 and increased expression of the cell death protein Bax. In contrast to lesion development, the selective COX-1 inhibitor had no effect on the regression of evolving lesions.


COX-1 plays an important role in the early stages of lesion development in the apoE-/- knockout model of atherosclerosis, preventing gross lesion formation in the face of continued vascular injury and inflammation. Despite the inhibition of prostacyclin, COX-2 inhibition had no effect on lesion development or platelet-vessel wall interactions.

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