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Exp Clin Cardiol. 2005 Fall;10(3):154-9.

Hyperhomocysteinemia exacerbates the development of intimal hyperplasia in Sprague-Dawley rats: Alleviation by rosiglitazone.

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  • 1Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.


The amino acid intermediate homocysteine (Hcy) is formed during the metabolism of methionine to cysteine. Hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) is recognized as an independent risk factor for coronary atherosclerosis. The circulating levels of total Hcy (tHcy) can increase due to intake of foods rich in methionine or deficiencies of vitamins such as folate, pyridoxine and cyanocobalamin, which are required for the metabolism of Hcy. In addition, mutations in the genes coding for Hcy metabolizing enzymes can contribute to an increase in tHcy levels. Clinical and epidemiological studies have shown that an elevated level of tHcy measured in serum or plasma is a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease risk, which appears to be greatest in patients who have HHcy following a methionine load. Intimal hyperplasia (IH) (intima/media [I/M] ratio) is the universal response of a vessel to injury and may result in vasoconstriction when left unattended. The effect of dietary HHcy on balloon catheter-injured carotid artery and its modulation (if any) by the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor agonist gamma rosiglitazone was evaluated in 12-week-old female Sprague-Dawley rats fed either a control diet or a diet containing 1% L-methionine. Once the rats were established on the diet, the group that was fed 1% L-methionine was further subdivided and either given an aqueous preparation of 3 mg/kg/day rosiglitazone or the vehicle via oral gavage for one week. This was followed by surgically injuring the left carotid artery using a Maverick Over-The-Wire catheter (2.0 mm x 20 mm, 3.2F; Boston Scientific, USA). The rats were continued on their respective diets and drug regimen for 21 days postsurgery. On day 22 of the procedure, the rats were sacrificed for collection of blood, the carotid arteries and liver for biochemical and histological evaluation. Compared with controls there was a significant increase in both tHcy levels and I/M ratio in the rats fed 1% L-methionine (5.4+/-0.28 muM versus 32.8+/-3.01 muM, P<0.002; and 0.175+/-0.05 versus 1.05+/-0.23, P<0.005, respectively). The effect of rosiglitazone in rats fed the control diet was not prominent. On the other hand, administration of rosiglitazone to the rats on the 1% L-methionine diet significantly reduced the levels of serum tHcy (16.6+/-2.1 muM versus 32.8+/-3.01 muM, P<0.001); however, the tHcy levels remained significantly elevated compared with animals on the control diet (P<0.002). The group receiving the L-methionine diet plus rosiglitazone had an inhibition in the development of IH compared with those receiving the L-methionine diet alone (I/M of 0.278+/-0.041 versus 1.05+/-0.23, P<0.01). Moreover, the development of IH in the group receiving the L-methionine diet plus rosiglitazone treatment was not significantly different from that observed in the group on the control diet without rosiglitazone (0.278+/-0.041 versus 0.175+/-0.05, respectively). These findings may have important implications in deciphering the molecular mechanisms involved in the augmentation of IH in HHcy and modulation of this process by rosiglitazone.


Carotid; Hyperhomocysteinemia; Metabolism; Methionine; Vasoconstriction

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