- LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS
Focal recruitment of monocytes and lymphocytes is one of the earliest detectable cellular responses in the formation of lesions of atherosclerosis. This localized accumulation of leukocytes is a multistep process in which the endothelium remains intact and may regulate leukocyte recruitment by expressing specific adhesion molecules. To examine the relationship of adhesion molecule expression to initiation factors and the sites of lesion formation, we analyzed the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), and platelet-endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) en face on the aortic endothelium of control mice and homozygous apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE-/-) mice that develop complex lesions of atherosclerosis similar to those in humans. In control mice, VCAM-1 staining was weak and limited to sites of altered blood flow. In contrast, in the ApoE-/- mice, VCAM-1 appeared to be localized over the surface of groups of endothelial cells in lesion-prone sites. Expression of VCAM-1 preceded lesion formation, and increased expression above control levels appeared to be correlated with the extent of exposure to plasma cholesterol, Although ICAM-1 was the most prominent adhesion molecule in lesion-prone sites, its expression appeared to be independent of plasma cholesterol levels and was upregulated in both ApoE-/- and control mice. At lesion-prone sites associated with altered blood flow, ICAM-1 was located over the surface of each endothelial cell and on microvilli, whereas VCAM-1 was confined to the cell periphery in non-lesion-prone sites. PECAM-1 was localized at the cell periphery throughout the aorta, and its expression did not appear to be regulated. Thus, the levels, localization, and characteristics of expression of VCAM-1, ICAM-1, and PECAM-1 appear to be differentially regulated. Upregulation of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 is associated with sites of lesion formation.
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