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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2002 Apr 1;22(4):680-5.

Hypercholesterolemia enhances thromboembolism in arterioles but not venules: complete reversal by L-arginine.

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Department of Physiology, CARIM, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands.


We investigated in vivo the effect of cholesterol diet-induced hypercholesterolemia (HC) on thromboembolism in nonatherosclerotic rabbit mesenteric arterioles and venules (diameter 21 to 45 micrometer). After mechanical vessel wall injury, the ensuing thromboembolic reaction was studied by intravital videomicroscopy. A dramatic prolongation of embolization duration (median >600 seconds) was observed in the arterioles of the HC group compared with the arterioles of a normal chow-fed (NC) control group (142 seconds, P<0.0001); concomitantly, relative thrombus height increased (thrombus height/vessel diameter was 68% for the HC group and 58% for the NC group; P<0.05). By contrast, in venules, cholesterol did not affect embolization duration (42 seconds for HC group, 34 seconds for NC group) and thrombus height (66% for HC group, 64% for NC group). Furthermore, the role of endothelial NO synthesis was studied. In arterioles, stimulation of endogenous NO synthesis through mesenteric superfusion of L-arginine (1 mmol/L) completely reversed cholesterol-enhanced embolization (152 seconds) but did not influence thrombus height (63%). L-Arginine had no effect in venules of the HC group (51 seconds) and nor in the arterioles and venules of the NC group (177 seconds for arterioles, 43 seconds for venules). This study indicates that hypercholesterolemia selectively enhances thrombus formation and embolization in arterioles but not in venules and that stimulation of endogenous NO production antagonizes this enhancement of arteriolar thromboembolism.

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