Shear stress is associated with markers of plaque vulnerability and MMP-9 activity

R Krams, C Cheng, F Helderman, S Verheye, L C A van Damme, B Mousavi Gourabi, D Tempel, D Segers, P de Feyter, G Pasterkamp, D De Klein, R de Crom, A F W van der Steen, P W Serruys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Vulnerable plaque has been associated with local macrophage accumulation and local high matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and MMP-9 activity. Since shear stress is a known local modulator of plaque location, we have determined whether local shear stress was associated with local plaque composition and with local MMP activity.

METHODS AND RESULTS: In 17 NZW rabbits plaque was generated by denudation of the infrarenal aorta over a region of 5 cm and feeding them a high cholesterol diet for 2 months. After 2 months, a motorised IVUS pullback of the infrarenal aorta was performed with a 40 MHz IVUS catheter (CVIS, Boston Scientific, USA). IVUS derived vessel wall-lumen contours were reconstructed in 3D with in-house developed software. These reconstructions served as an input for a computational fluid dynamics technique, from which the 3-D shear stress field was calculated. Plaque regions were divided in 5 regions (n=8) to identify the location of highest macrophage accumulation or selected on basis of shear stress to identify whether high shear stress selects macrophage accumulation (n=8). In a second series, shear stress values were used to select regions -containing both latent and active MMP-2 and MMP-9. Segments were sectioned with a microtome and stained for smooth muscle cells (SMC), macrophages (MPhi) and collagen (COL). MPhi, displayed the highest density upstream of the plaque (6.9+/-2.4%, p<0.05), while SMC accumulated downstream (74.8+/-1.9%) of the plaque. High shear stress was associated with MPhi accumulation and MMP-9 activity (p<0.05).

CONCLUSION: Upstream location of macrophages in plaques is associated with high shear stress and MMP-9 accumulation. These findings are discussed in relation to rheological theories reported previously in atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-6
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006


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