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Atherosclerosis. 2002 May;162(1):45-53.

Effects of VasoCare therapy on the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis.

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Terrence Donnelly Vascular Biology Laboratory, Terrence Donnelly Heart Center, Division of Cardiology, St. Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond Street, Toronto Ont., Canada M5B 1W8.


VasoCare therapy, which involves the administration of autologous blood following the ex vivo exposure to physico-chemical stressors, has been shown to modulate immune responses. Since immune mechanisms have been recognized to be pivotal in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, we hypothesized that VasoCare treatment would inhibit atherosclerosis in LDL-R (-/-) mice. Three groups of LDL-R (-/-) mice were studied: a control group that was fed normal chow (Group I) and no other treatment; a control group that received a high cholesterol (HC) diet for 8 weeks (group II) with sham saline injections; and a third group (III) that received HC diet for 8 weeks and VasoCare treatment initiated after four weeks of HC feeding. Atherosclerotic area (AA), relative to total aortic area (TA), was assessed after 8 weeks of HC feeding by oil red O staining, and cross sectional plaque area at the level of the aortic valve leaflets was determined by quantitative morphometry. HC mice exhibited substantial aortic lipid deposition which was profoundly reduced in the VasoCare treated animals (AA/TA ratios in group II: 0.32+/-0.15 vs. group III: 0.17+/-0.06; P<0.05). This was associated with a significant decrease in cross sectional area of plaque in the aortic sinuses. VasoCare therapy also reduced the xanthoma formation and limb swelling characteristic of this animal model. However, cholesterol levels, measured by an enzymatic assay, showed similar marked increases in total serum cholesterol (CHO) in the animals receiving HC diet alone and those receiving the HC diet and VasoCare treatment [group I: 5.4+/-0.8 mM, group II: 46.7+/-3.6 mM, and group III: 44.7+/-2.8 mM (P<0.01 vs. group I)]. We conclude that VasoCare treatment inhibits progression of atherosclerotic lesions in a murine model of human familial hypercholesterolemia by a mechanism independent of cholesterol lowering.

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