Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease that causes lesions in large and medium-sized arteries. There is increasing evidence that the function of vascular endothelial cells is impaired by oxidation reactions, and that metal ions may participate in these processes. The nuclear microscopy facility in NUS, which has the ability to focus a 2 MeV proton beam down to sub micron spot sizes, was used to investigate the trace elemental changes (e.g. Zn and Fe) in atherosclerotic lesions in the common carotid artery of apolipoprotein E deficient mice fed a high fat diet. In this preliminary study, which is part of a larger study to investigate the effects of probucol on carotid artery atherosclerosis, two sets of mice were used; a test set fed a high fat diet +1% probucol, and a control set which was fed a high fat diet only. The results show that the Zn/Fe ratio was significantly higher in the media of arteries of probucol treated animals without overlying lesion (4.3) compared to the media with overlying lesion (1.3) (p = 0.004) for test mice. For the control mice, the arterial Zn/Fe ratio was 1.8 for media without overlying lesion, compared with 1.0 for media with overlying lesion (p = 0.1). Thus, for media without overlying lesion, the Zn/Fe ratio was significantly higher (p = 0.009) in probucol-treated (4.3) than control mice (1.8), whereas there was little difference in the ratios between the two groups in media with overlying lesion (1.3 compared with 1.0). These preliminary results are consistent with the idea that the levels of iron and zinc concentrations within the artery wall may influence the formation of atherosclerotic plaque in the carotid artery. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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