Author(s): Cipollone F, Prontera C, Pini B, Marini M, Fazia M,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Studies have implicated a role for prostaglandin (PG) E(2)-dependent matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) biosynthesis in the rupture of atherosclerotic plaque. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and PGE synthase (PGES) are coregulated in nucleated cells by inflammatory stimuli. The aim of this study was to characterize the expression of COX-2 and PGES in carotid plaques and to correlate it with the extent of inflammatory infiltration and MMP activity and with clinical features of patients' presentation. METHODS AND RESULTS: Plaques were obtained from 50 patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy and divided into 2 groups (symptomatic and asymptomatic) according to clinical evidence of recent transient ischemic attack or stroke. Plaques were analyzed for COX-2, PGES, MMP-2, and MMP-9 by immunocytochemistry and Western blot, whereas zymography was used to detect MMP activity. Immunocytochemistry was used to identify CD68+ macrophages, CD3+ T lymphocytes, and HLA-DR+ cells. The percentage of macrophage-rich areas was larger (P<0.0001) in symptomatic plaques. COX-2, PGES, and MMPs were detected in all specimens; enzyme concentration, however, was significantly higher in symptomatic plaques. COX-2, PGES, and MMPs were especially noted in shoulders of symptomatic plaques, colocalizing with HLA-DR+ macrophages. All symptomatic plaques contained activated forms of MMPs. Finally, inhibition of COX-2 by NS-398 was accompanied by decreased production of MMPs that was reversed by PGE(2). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the colocalization of COX-2 and PGES in symptomatic lesions and provides evidence that synthesis of COX-2 and PGES by activated macrophages is associated with acute ischemic syndromes, possibly through metalloproteinase-induced plaque rupture.
This article was published in Circulation
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism