Implantation of a carotid cuff for triggering shear-stress induced atherosclerosis in mice

M.T. Kuhlmann, S. Cuhlmann, I. Hoppe, R. Krams, P.C. Evans, G.J. Strijkers, K. Nicolay, S. Hermann, M. Schäfers

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    It is widely accepted that alterations in vascular shear stress trigger the expression of inflammatory genes in endothelial cells and thereby induce atherosclerosis (reviewed in (1) and (2)). The role of shear stress has been extensively studied in vitro investigating the influence of flow dynamics on cultured endothelial cells and in vivo in larger animals and humans. However, highly reproducible small animal models allowing systematic investigation of the influence of shear stress on plaque development are rare. Recently, Nam et al. introduced a mouse model in which the ligation of branches of the carotid artery creates a region of low and oscillatory flow. Although this model causes endothelial dysfunction and rapid formation of atherosclerotic lesions in hyperlipidemic mice, it cannot be excluded that the observed inflammatory response is, at least in part, a consequence of endothelial and/or vessel damage due to ligation. In order to avoid such limitations, a shear stress modifying cuff has been developed based upon calculated fluid dynamics, whose cone shaped inner lumen was selected to create defined regions of low, high and oscillatory shear stress within the common carotid artery. By applying this model in Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) knockout mice fed a high cholesterol western type diet, vascular lesions develop upstream and downstream from the cuff. Their phenotype is correlated with the regional flow dynamics as confirmed by in vivo Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Low and laminar shear stress upstream of the cuff causes the formation of extensive plaques of a more vulnerable phenotype, whereas oscillatory shear stress downstream of the cuff induces stable atherosclerotic lesions. In those regions of high shear stress and high laminar flow within the cuff, typically no atherosclerotic plaques are observed. In conclusion, the shear stress-modifying cuff procedure is a reliable surgical approach to produce phenotypically different atherosclerotic lesions in ApoE-deficient mice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere3308
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE)
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2012


    • Medicine
    • Issue 59
    • atherosclerosis
    • mouse
    • cardiovascular disease
    • shear stress


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