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Atherosclerosis. 2000 May;150(1):21-31.

CD143 in the development of atherosclerosis.

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Department of Pediatric Surgery, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Munich, Germany.


The expression of CD143 (angiotensin-I-converting enzyme, ACE) in cardiovascular diseases may be an important determinant of local angiotensin and kinin concentrations. Much of the experimental and clinical evidence suggests a crucial role for Ang II in fibrogenesis and the development of atherosclerosis. Therefore, we have studied the distribution of CD143 in atherosclerotic and non-atherosclerotic segments isolated from different parts of the human vascular tree, including aorta and coronary, carotid, brachial, renal, iliac and femoral arteries, and staged according to the AHA. Two hundred and thirty native and formalin-fixed specimens of 80 patients were analysed by sensitive APAAP-technique using ten different monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies to human CD143 and several controls. In non-atherosclerotic segments or intimal thickening, CD143 was found almost restricted to the endothelial cells of adventitial arterioles and small muscular arteries. In contrast, a striking accumulation of CD143 was detected in all early and advanced atherosclerotic lesions. This de-novo occurrence of CD143 within the intimal vascular wall was caused by spindle-shaped subendothelial cells with macrophagic/histocytic features, activated macrophages and foam cells. In addition, advanced lesions of atherosclerosis showed a marked neo-expression of CD143 in newly formed intimal microvessels. Hypocellular fibrotic plaques depleted in microvessels and macrophages showed only little CD143. The de-novo occurrence of CD143 was dependent on the stage of atherosclerosis but not on its particular localisation within the vascular system. This early and obligatory CD143 expression at an unusual vascular site may contribute to unusual tissue levels of angiotensins as indicated by co-localisation of immunoreactive Ang II. Thus, it may be an important pathogenetic step in the development of atherosclerosis and an established target for pharmacological prevention.

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