Spatial variation in hemodynamic stresses acting on the arterial wall may explain the nonuniform distribution of atherosclerosis. In thoracic aortas of LDL receptor/apolipoprotein E double knockout mice, lesions develop preferentially around the entire circumference of intercostal branch ostia, regardless of age, with the highest prevalence occurring upstream. Additional chevron-shaped lesions occur further upstream of the ostia. This pattern differs from the age-related ones occurring in people and rabbits. In the present study, patterns of near-wall blood flow around intercostal ostia in wild-type mice were estimated from the morphology of endothelial nuclei, which were shown in vitro to elongate in response to elevated shear stress and to align with the flow, and wall structure was assessed from confocal and scanning electron microscopy. A triangular intimal cushion surrounded the upstream part of most ostia. Nuclear length-to-width ratios were lowest over this cushion and highest at the sides of branches, regardless of age. Nuclear orientations were consistent with flow diverging around the branch. The pattern of nuclear morphology differed from the age-related ones observed in rabbits. The intimal cushion and the distribution of shear stress inferred from these observations can partly account for the pattern of lesions observed in knockout mice. Nuclear elongation in nonbranch regions was approximately constant across animals of different size, demonstrating the existence of a mechanism by which endothelial cells compensate for the dependence of mean aortic wall shear stress on body mass.
Bond, Andrew RNi, Chih-WenJo, HanjoongWeinberg, Peter DengBritish Heart Foundation/United KingdomResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov't2009/11/26 06:00Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010 Feb;298(2):H536-44. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00917.2009. Epub 2009 Nov 20.