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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2000 Dec;20(12):2587-92.

Advanced atherosclerotic lesions in the innominate artery of the ApoE knockout mouse.

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Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Most previous studies of atherosclerosis in hyperlipidemic mouse models have focused their investigations on lesions within the aorta or aortic sinus in young animals. None of these studies has demonstrated clinically significant advanced lesions. We previously mapped the distribution of lesions throughout the arterial tree of apolipoprotein E knockout (apoE(-/-)) mice between the ages of 24 and 60 weeks. We found that the innominate artery, a small vessel connecting the aortic arch to the right subclavian and right carotid artery, exhibits a highly consistent rate of lesion progression and develops a narrowed vessel characterized by atrophic media and perivascular inflammation. The present study reports the characteristics of advanced lesions in the innominate artery of apoE(-/-) mice aged 42 to 60 weeks. In animals aged 42 to 54 weeks, there is a very high frequency of intraplaque hemorrhage and a fibrotic conversion of necrotic zones accompanied by loss of the fibrous cap. By 60 weeks of age, the lesions are characterized by the presence of collagen-rich fibrofatty nodules often flanked by lateral xanthomas. The processes underlying these changes in the innominate artery of older apoE(-/-) mice could well be a model for the critical processes leading to the breakdown and healing of the human atherosclerotic plaque.

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