Author(s): Lehr HA, Sagban TA, Ihling C, Zhringer U, Hungerer KD,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: On the basis of our concept that atherosclerosis has an immunopathological background, we tested whether activation of the innate immune system influences its progression. METHODS AND RESULTS: Hypercholesterolemic (0.5\% wt/wt diet) rabbits received either repeated intravenous injections of endotoxin (Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide 1.25 to 2.5 microg, once per week) or a self-limiting cutaneous Staphylococcus aureus infection with or without a quinolone antibiotic. Measured laboratory parameters, including LDL and HDL cholesterols, were similar in the different groups of hypercholesterolemic animals. All endotoxin-treated animals developed transient episodes of fever after endotoxin administration. The extent of atherosclerosis was evaluated by computer-assisted morphometry in the aortas en face (Sudan IV) and by histology at 8 weeks after start of the experiments. Endotoxin-treated animals exhibited significantly accelerated atherosclerosis compared with control animals (141+/-38 versus 45+/-16 mm(3) total lesion volume, n=7 to 9 rabbits each, P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Nonspecific stimulation of the innate immune system accelerates cholesterol-induced atherosclerosis. These data support the concept that atherosclerosis has an immunopathological component and render it improbable that a single infectious agent should assume particular importance in its initiation or progression.
This article was published in Circulation
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics