Atherosclerosis 2010 212(2):436-443
Increased cell proliferation in early atherosclerotic lesions is recognized as an essential event in atherogenesis but the levels of cell proliferation in the different stages of atheroscleroticplague formation in different types of human large arteries are still insufficiently studied. In the present work, we studied intima thickness and proliferation of newly "infiltrated" hematogenous and resident cells in atherosclerotic lesions of the carotid and coronary arteries and compared these parameters with those in the aorta, which we reported in an earlier publication (Orekhov et al. ). Analysis of intima thickness and proliferation in grossly unaffected intima and in different types of atherosclerotic lesions (initial lesions, fatty streaks, lipofibrous plaques, and fibrous plaques) revealed that, although there were similar tendencies in the change of the infiltration levels of hematogenous cells and proliferation in different types of arteries, there were significant quantitative differences between different types of arteries. Hematogenous cells in lipofibrous plaques of the coronary and carotid arteries were found to account for a third and almost for a half of the total cell population, respectively, while atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta, as shown by us previously, contain no more than 15% of hematogenous cells. This suggests that the contribution of hematogenous cells to the development of atherosclerosis in the carotid and coronary arteries appears to be more significant than in the aorta. Despite the differences in the numbers of accumulating hematogenous cells in the intima, a similar "bell-shaped" dependence of cell numbers on the lesion type, involved the following sequence: unaffected intima--initial lesions--fatty streaks--lipofibrous plaques--fibrous plaques, was detected in the coronary and carotid arteries. The visualization of PCNA-positive cells inatherosclerotic and unaffected zones of the coronary and carotid arteries revealed similar patterns of the distribution of proliferating cells. The maximum numbers of PCNA-positive resident cells were identified in lipofibrous plaques. The changes in the total cell numbers were found to be accompanied by the changes in the numbers of both proliferating resident cells and proliferating hematogenous cells. According to our knowledge, this is the first report that provides factual data about the similarities and differences in cell composition and proliferation between different types of large arteries in which the development of atherosclerosis is of crucial importance.