Shear stress-induced atherosclerotic plaque composition in ApoE-/- mice is modulated by connexin37

A. Pfenniger, M. J. Meens, R. M. Pedrigi, B. Foglia, E. Sutter, G. Pelli, V. Rochemont, T. V. Petrova, R. Krams, B. R. Kwak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: Shear stress patterns influence atherogenesis and plaque stability; low laminar shear stress (LLSS) promotes unstable plaques whereas oscillatory shear stress (OSS) induces more stable plaques. Endothelial connexin37 (Cx37) expression is also regulated by shear stress, which may contribute to localization of atherosclerotic disease. Moreover, Cx37 reduces initiation of atherosclerosis by inhibiting monocyte adhesion. The present work investigates the effect of Cx37 on the phenotype of plaques induced by LLSS or OSS. Methods: Shear stress-modifying casts were placed around the common carotid artery of ApoE-/- or ApoE-/-Cx37-/- mice, and animals were placed on a high-cholesterol diet for 6 or 9 weeks. Atherosclerotic plaque size and composition were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Results: Plaque size in response to OSS was increased in ApoE-/-Cx37-/- mice compared to ApoE-/- animals. Most plaques contained high lipid and macrophage content and a low amount of collagen. In ApoE-/- mice, macrophages were more prominent in LLSS than OSS plaques. This difference was reversed in ApoE-/-Cx37-/- animals, with a predominance of macrophages in OSS plaques. The increase in macrophage content in ApoE-/-Cx37-/- OSS plaques was mainly due to increased accumulation of M1 and Mox macrophage subtypes. Cx37 expression in macrophages did not affect their proliferation or their polarization in vitro. Conclusion: Cx37 deletion increased the size of atherosclerotic lesions in OSS regions and abrogated the development of a stable plaque phenotype under OSS in ApoE-/- mice. Hence, local hemodynamic factors may modify the risk for adverse atherosclerotic disease outcomes associated to a polymorphism in the human Cx37 gene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Connexin
  • Macrophages
  • Plaque stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Shear stress-induced atherosclerotic plaque composition in ApoE-/- mice is modulated by connexin37'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this