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Blood. 2001 Sep 1;98(5):1424-8.

Localized reduction of atherosclerosis in von Willebrand factor-deficient mice.

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  • 1Center for Blood Research and the Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


To examine the role of the platelet adhesion molecule von Willebrand factor (vWf) in atherogenesis, vWf-deficient mice (vWf-/-) were bred with mice lacking the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR-/-) on a C57BL/6J background. LDLR-/-vWf+/+ and LDLR-/-vWf-/- mice were placed on a diet rich in saturated fat and cholesterol for different lengths of time. The atherogenic diet stimulated leukocyte rolling in the mesenteric venules in both genotypes, indicating an increase in P-selectin-mediated adhesion to the endothelium. After 8 weeks on the atherogenic diet, the fatty streaks formed in the aortic sinus of LDLR-/-vWf-/- mice of either sex were 40% smaller and contained fewer monocytes than those in LDLR-/-vWf+/+ mice. After 22 weeks on the atherogenic diet (early fibrous plaque stage), the difference in lesion size in the aortic sinus persisted. Interestingly, the lesion distribution in the aortas of LDLR-/-vWf-/- animals was different from that of LDLR-/- vWf+/+ animals. In vWf-positive mice, half of all lesions were located at the branch points of the renal and mesenteric arteries, whereas lesions in this area were not as prominent in the vWf-negative mice. These results indicate that the absence of vWf primarily affects the regions of the aorta with disturbed flow that are prone to atherosclerosis. Thus, vWf may recruit platelets/leukocytes to the lesion in a flow-dependent manner or may be part of the mechano-transduction pathway regulating endothelial response to shear stress.

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