Redox signaling in an in vivo flow model of low magnitude oscillatory wall shear stress
Willett, Nick J.
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Atherosclerosis is a multifactoral inflammatory disease that occurs in predisposed locations in the vasculature where blood flow is disturbed. In vitro studies have implicated reactive oxygen species as mediators of mechanotransduction leading to inflammatory protein expression and ultimately atherogenesis. While these cell culture-based studies have provided enormous insight into the effects of WSS on endothelial biology, the applicability to the in vivo setting is questionable. We hypothesized that low magnitude oscillatory WSS acts through reactive oxygen species (ROS) to increase expression of inflammatory cell adhesion molecules leading to the development of atherosclerotic lesions. The overall objective for this thesis was to develop an in vivo flow model that produces low magnitude oscillatory WSS which could be used to investigate the in vivo molecular mechanisms of mechanotransduction. We created a novel aortic coarctation model using a shape memory nitinol clip. The clip reproducibly constricts the aorta creating a narrowing of the lumen resulting in a stenosis. This mechanical constraint produces a region of flow separation downstream from the coarctation. We have characterized the coarctation in terms of the efficacy, pressure loss, and fluid dynamics. We then measured the endothelial response of shear sensitive redox and inflammatory markers. Lastly, we utilized genetically modified mice and mice treated with pharmacological inhibitors to investigate the mechanisms involved in the expression of WSS induced inflammatory and redox markers. We found that inducing a coarctation of the aorta using a nitinol clip uniquely created a hemodynamic environment of low magnitude oscillatory WSS without a significant change in blood pressure. Using this model we found that the in vivo endothelial phenotype associated with acutely disturbed flow was characterized by increased production of superoxide and increased expression of select inflammatory proteins. In comparison, the phenotype associated with chronically disturbed flow was characterized by a more modest increase in superoxide and increased levels of multiple inflammatory proteins. We determined that in regions of acutely disturbed flow in vivo, VCAM-1 expression was not modulated by reactive oxygen species. Additionally, p47 phox-dependent NADPH Oxidase activity does not have a functional role in WSS induced superoxide generation in the endothelium. In summary, we have created a novel murine model of low magnitude oscillatory WSS that can be used to investigate the in vivo molecular mechanisms associated with atherogenesis. While previous data obtained in vitro indicated that depletion of an individual ROS was sufficient to inhibit flow-induced inflammatory protein expression, our findings, to the contrary, showed that antioxidant treatment in vivo does not inhibit shear-dependent inflammatory protein expression. Our results suggest that atherogenesis in the in vivo environment is significantly more complicated than the in vitro environment and that parallel pathways and compensatory mechanisms are likely activated in vivo in response to WSS. These results could have significant implications in the efficacy of antioxidant treatment of atherosclerosis and could explain the complexity of results observed in clinical trials.