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Histochem Cell Biol. 2005 Dec;124(6):517-22. Epub 2005 Sep 22.

CD34 Class III positive cells are present in atherosclerotic plaques of the rabbit model of atherosclerosis.

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Division of Cardiovascular Research, Department of Cardiology, University of Melbourne, Austin Health, Heidelberg, 3084, Australia.


CD34 is a positive marker for haematopoietic stem cells and endothelial cells. Recent evidence suggests that haematopoietic progenitor cells are involved in atherogenesis. CD34-positive haematopoietic progenitor cells have never been described in rabbit atherosclerotic tissues. The aim of this study is to identify CD34-positive haematopoietic progenitor cells in rabbit atherosclerotic tissues, and to compare this with macrophage (RAM-11), alpha smooth muscle cell actin and fibroblast (prolyl-4-hydroxylase) immunoreactive cells. Sixteen Male New Zealand White rabbits were divided into two groups: Group 1, control diet (Con); group 2, 0.5% cholesterol diet, and killed after 12 weeks. Immunohistochemistry was used to detect CD34 haematopoietic progenitor cells. CD34-positive haematopoietic progenitor cells were identified both within and overlying atherosclerotic plaques. As well, these haematopoietic progenitor cells also stained for RAM-11, CD45, prolyl-4 hydroxylase and alpha smooth muscle cell actin. These findings suggest that in the rabbit model of atherosclerosis, the previously identified macrophages, smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts within and overlying atherosclerotic plaques might be of haematopoietic origin.

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