Blood flow interplays with elastin: Collagen and MMP: TIMP ratios to maintain healthy vascular structure and function

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Differential vascular remodeling is one of the major mechanisms of heterogeneity in atherosclerosis. The structural and functional heterogeneity between arteries and veins determines the degree of vascular remodeling. Matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) and their tissue inhibitors (TIMPs) play key roles in vascular structural and functional remodeling. We hypothesized that the level of blood flow in different arteries and veins caused structural and functional heterogeneity that ultimately determined potential vascular remodeling. To test this hypothesis, in vivo blood flow and blood pressure in the aorta, carotid, femoral artery, and femoral vein was measured in male Sprague-Dawley rats (weight 380-400 gm). Arterial and venous pressures were measured by PE-50 catheter cannulation. Blood flow was mea-sured by a transonic ultrasound system. The aortic arch, femoral and carotid arteries, and abdominal vena cava were isolated to determine the expression of MMP-2, -9, -12, and -13 and TIMP-1, -3, and -4 by Western blot and in gelatin gel zymography. Masson trichrome and van Gieson stains were used to stain the histologic tissue sections. The results revealed that blood flow was higher in the aorta and carotid artery than the femoral artery and vein. MMP-9 and MMP-13 were higher in the carotid artery in comparison with the other blood vessels, while TIMP-3 showed higher expression in the aorta than the arteries. Further, the MMP-9 activity was significantly higher in the carotid artery than in the aorta and femoral artery. There was a higher degree of basement membrane collagen in the femoral artery and therefore a low elastin: collagen ratio, while in the carotid artery a higher level of elastin and, therefore, a high elastin: collagen ratio was found. The results suggested that medial thickness and elastin:collagen ratios had a threshold in blood flow in the range 0.6-2.5 mL/min, which increased robustly if blood flow increased to 2.7 mL/min. This pattern was inverted by the total MMP:TIMP ratio. We conclude that vascular remodeling is a function of rate of blood flow, which would in turn be determined by the amounts of MMPs and their inhibitors present. The study combined the endothelial and dynamic (blood flow/pressure) components that affect medial thickness and elastin: collagen ratios. © 2010 Basu et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.




Basu, P., Sen, U., Tyagi, N., & Tyagi, S. C. (2010). Blood flow interplays with elastin: Collagen and MMP: TIMP ratios to maintain healthy vascular structure and function. Vascular Health and Risk Management, 6(1), 215–228.

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