Monocyte adherence to the endothelium and subsequent migration into the subendothelial space are important early events in atherogenesis. Monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) has been shown to be highly expressed in both human atheroma and advanced atherosclerotic lesions of experimental animals. To establish the temporal correlation between MCP-1 expression and plaque development, we examined the expression of MCP-1 during atherogenesis of hypercholesterolemic rabbits using Northern blot analysis, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry. New Zealand White rabbits were fed with 2% cholesterol-containing diet for 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 3 weeks or 6 weeks. The plasma levels of total cholesterol were significantly increased 3 days after cholesterol feeding and continued to increase during the entire cholesterol-feeding period. Northern blot analysis showed that MCP-1 mRNA levels remained unchanged following cholesterol feeding for up to 1 week, were higher than control levels aT 3-week and increased even higher at 6- week. In situ hybridization showed that after 3 weeks of cholesterol feeding, MCP-1 mRNA expression was up-regulated in newly-formed fatty streaks and parts of tunica media in the presence or absence of fatty streaks. At 6- week, pronounced MCP-1 mRNA expression was detected with similar distribution. In contrast, MCP-1 mRNA was detected only in a few endothelial cells and adventitia in control and experimental groups feeding cholesterol up to 1-week. Immunostaining of serial sections indicated that MCP-1 was expressed by macrophages and smooth muscle cells in rabbits fed with cholesterol for 3 or 6 weeks. No MCP-1 was detected in intima or media in all other groups. These results show that a lag period exists between serum cholesterol increase and upregulation of MCP-1 expression, suggesting that cholesterol modifications (e.g. oxidation) are required to stimulate MCP-1 expression. In addition, MCP-1 expressed by both macrophages and smooth muscle cells during the initial stages of atherosclerosis is likely to contribute to the development of fatty streaks in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine