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Arterioscler Thromb. 1993 Feb;13(2):197-204.

An atherogenic diet rapidly induces VCAM-1, a cytokine-regulatable mononuclear leukocyte adhesion molecule, in rabbit aortic endothelium.

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  • 1Vascular Medicine and Atherosclerosis Unit, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.


Accumulation of monocyte-derived foam cells in focal areas of the arterial intima is a key step in early atherogenesis. We investigated the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), a mononuclear leukocyte adhesion molecule, in the arterial endothelium during the early phases of diet-induced atherogenesis in rabbits in vivo and the regulation of VCAM-1 expression by cytokines in rabbit aortic organoid cultures in vitro. Rabbits were fed either an atherogenic diet (containing 0.3% cholesterol, 9% coconut oil, and 1% corn oil) or an isocaloric control diet (10% corn oil) for 4 days or 1, 3, 6, or 13 weeks. The endothelium in the ascending aorta focally expressed VCAM-1 after only 1 week on the atherogenic diet but before the first appearance of intimal macrophages, as judged by immunohistochemical staining of serial sections. The rabbits that consumed the atherogenic diet for 3 weeks or longer developed lesions in the intima composed of macrophages bearing class II major histocompatibility antigen (MHC-II). Endothelial cells continued to focally express VCAM-1 at sites of MHC-II-positive intimal macrophages for up to 13 weeks. The ascending aortas of control rabbits lacked VCAM-1 or MHC-II-positive endothelium or macrophages at all times studied. These observations demonstrate the focal activation of arterial endothelium as early as 7 days after initiation of an atherogenic diet (at serum cholesterol levels of 308 +/- 57 mg/dl).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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