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J R Soc Interface. 2013 Feb 28;10(82):20121053. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2012.1053. Print 2013 May 6.

In vitro and in vivo investigations on the effects of low-density lipoprotein concentration polarization and haemodynamics on atherosclerotic localization in rabbit and zebrafish.

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  • 1Chongqing University, Chongqing, People's Republic of China.


Atherosclerosis (AS) commonly occurs in the regions of the arterial tree with haemodynamic peculiarities, including local flow field disturbances, and formation of swirling flow and vortices. The aim of our study was to confirm low-density lipoprotein (LDL) concentration polarization in the vascular system in vitro and in vivo, and investigate the effects of LDL concentration polarization and flow field alterations on atherosclerotic localization. Red fluorescent LDL was injected into optically transparent Flk1: GFP zebrafish embryos, and the LDL distribution in the vascular lumen was investigated in vivo using laser scanning confocal microscopy. LDL concentration at the vascular luminal surface was found to be higher than that in the bulk. The flow field conditions in blood vessel segments were simulated and measured, and obvious flow field disturbances were found in the regions of vascular geometry change. The LDL concentration at the luminal surface of bifurcation was significantly higher than that in the straight segment, possibly owing to the atherogenic effect of disturbed flow. Additionally, a stenosis model of rabbit carotid arteries was generated. Atherosclerotic plaques were found to have occurred in the stenosis group and were more severe in the stenosis group on a high-fat diet. Our findings provide the first ever definite proof that LDL concentration polarization occurs in the vascular system in vivo. Both lipoprotein concentration polarization and flow field changes are involved in the infiltration/accumulation of atherogenic lipids within the location of arterial luminal surface and promote the development of AS.

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