Regional Atherosclerotic Plaque Properties in ApoE–/– Mice Quantified by Atomic Force, Immunofluorescence, and Light Microscopy
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Elucidating regional material properties of arterial tissue is fundamental to predicting transmural stresses and understanding how tissue stiffness influences cellular responses and vice versa. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to measure point-wise the axial compressive stiffness of healthy aortas and atherosclerotic plaques at micron level separation distances. Cross sections of plaques were obtained from a widely used animal model of atherosclerosis (ApoE-/- mice). Median point-wise values of material stiffness were 18.7 and 1.5 kPa for the unloaded healthy wall (n = 25 specimens) and plaque (n = 18), respectively. When the healthy wall was distended uniformly during AFM testing, two mechanically distinct populations emerged from comparisons of normal cumulative distributions, with median values of 9.8 and 76.7 kPa (n = 16). The higher values of stiffness may have been due to extended elastin, which was not present in the plaques. Rather, most plaques were identified via standard and immunofluorescent histology to be largely lipid laden, and they exhibited a nearly homogeneous linear elastic behavior over the small AFM indentations. Understanding the mechanics and mechanobiological factors involved in lesion development and remodeling could lead to better treatments for those lesions that are vulnerable to rupture.
author list (cited authors)
Hayenga, H. N., Trache, A., Trzeciakowski, J., & Humphrey, J. D.