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Circulation. 2003 Feb 11;107(5):762-8.

Influenza infection exerts prominent inflammatory and thrombotic effects on the atherosclerotic plaques of apolipoprotein E-deficient mice.

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Center for Vulnerable Plaque Research at the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, Division of Cardiology, and the Texas Heart Institute, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



The role of infection in the development and complications of atherosclerosis has been the focus of much attention. We reported previously that influenza vaccination was associated with reduced risk of recurrent myocardial infarction. Here, we report the effect of influenza A virus on the apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE(-/-)) mouse, an animal model of atherosclerosis.


Twenty-four apoE(-/-) mice >24 months old were injected with 1 LD(50) (lethal dose 50) of influenza A virus. Ten wild-type C57BL/6 infected mice and 11 noninfected age-matched apoE(-/-) mice served as controls. Multiple aortic sections were studied histologically 3, 5, and 10 days later. The infected mice showed markedly increased intimal cellularity compared with the noninfected apoE(-/-) mice. No aortic abnormalities were seen in infected wild-type mice. Ten infected apoE(-/-) mice had a significant subendothelial infiltrate composed of a heterogeneous group of cells that stained positively for smooth muscle cell actin, F4/80 (macrophages), and CD3 (T lymphocytes). One case of subocclusive platelet and fibrin-rich thrombus was seen.


This study shows that influenza infection promotes inflammation, smooth muscle cell proliferation, and fibrin deposition in atherosclerotic plaques.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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