Abstract 15140: VEGFR2 Blockade in Murine Vein Grafts Reduces Intraplaque Hemorrhage due to Enhanced Plaque Neovessel Maturation
Introduction: Vein graft patency rates are poor due to the development of extensive neointimal thickening, atherosclerosis and lesion instability. We have previously shown that murine vein graft lesions exhibit leaky neovessels and that intraplaque hemorrhage induces lesion growth. Immature plaque neovessels contribute to atherosclerotic plaque instability by leakage of erythrocytes and leukocytes (intraplaque haemorrhage) in the plaque. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor 2 (VEGFR2), together with the angiopoietin (Ang)-Tie2 system, regulates the maturation of neovessels.
Hypothesis: VEGFR2 blockade induces plaque neovessel maturation resulting in reduced intraplaque hemorrhage and plaque instability.
Methods: Donor caval veins were engrafted in carotid arteries of recipient hypercholesterolemic ApoE3*Leiden mice (n=14/group). Mice were treated at day 14, 17, 21 and 25 with VEGFR2 blocking antibodies (DC101) or control IgG antibodies. At day 28 vein grafts were harvested for histological and RNA analysis.
Results: Morphometric analysis revealed a striking 50% decrease in vein graft segments that expressed intraplaque hemorrhage in the DC101 treated group. This was accompanied by a significant 25-fold decrease in extravasated erythrocytes. DC101 treatment resulted in a decrease in VEGF expression whereas VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 expression was comparable between the two groups. Connexin 37 and 43 expression was also comparable between the groups, indicating that gap junctions were not affected upon DC101 treatment. However, lesions that exhibit intraplaque hemorrhage showed a strong increase in destabilizing Ang-2. The vein graft lesion area was significantly reduced in the DC101 group, which was accompanied by an increased plaque stability phenotype as a result of a significant reduction in macrophage content and increases in smooth muscle cells and collagen content.
Conclusions: Blockade of VEGFR2 leads to reduced intraplaque hemorrhage, decreased vein graft lesion area and increased plaque stability as a result of increased neovessel maturation. This identifies plaque neovascularization as an attractive target for the treatment of unstable atherosclerotic diseases.
Author Disclosures: M.R. de Vries: None. E.A. Peters: None. J.F. Hamming: None. M.T. Goumans: None. P.H. Quax: None.
- © 2015 by American Heart Association, Inc.