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Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2009 Mar;10(3):232-8.

The role of a murine transplantation model of atherosclerosis regression in drug discovery.

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New York University School of Medicine, The Marc and Ruti Bell Vascular Biology Disease Program, Department of Cell Biology and Medicine, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death worldwide. To date, the use of statins to lower LDL levels has been the major intervention used to delay or halt disease progression. These drugs have an incomplete impact on plaque burden and risk, however, as evidenced by the substantial rates of myocardial infarctions that occur in large-scale clinical trials of statins. Thus, it is hoped that by understanding the factors that lead to plaque regression, better approaches to treating atherosclerosis may be developed. A transplantation-based mouse model of atherosclerosis regression has been developed by allowing plaques to form in a model of human atherosclerosis, the apoE-deficient mouse, and then placing these plaques into recipient mice with a normolipidemic plasma environment. Under these conditions, the depletion of foam cells occurs. Interestingly, the disappearance of foam cells was primarily due to migration in a CCR7-dependent manner to regional and systemic lymph nodes after 3 days in the normolipidemic (regression) environment. Further studies using this transplant model demonstrated that liver X receptor and HDL are other factors likely to be involved in plaque regression. In conclusion, through the use of this transplant model, the process of uncovering the pathways regulating atherosclerosis regression has begun, which will ultimately lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets.

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