Cellular and Molecular Biology


C-reactive protein levels are associated with the progression of atherosclerotic lesions in rabbits

Qi Yu1, Yafeng Li1, Yanli Wang1, Sihai Zhao1, Peigang Yang1, Yulong Chen1, Jianglin Fan2 and Enqi Liu1

1Research Institute of Atherosclerotic Disease, Xi’an Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Xi'an, China and 2Department of Molecular Pathology, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Engineering and Medicine, University of Yamanashi, Yamanashi, Japan.

Offprint requests to: Enqi Liu, Ph.D. Professor and Director, Research Institute of Atherosclerotic Disease, Xi'an Jiaotong University School of Medicine, China. e-mail: liuenqi@mail.xjtu.edu.cn

Summary. Elevated plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. CRP immunoreactive protein is also detected in the lesions of atherosclerosis. However, it is not known whether the CRP contents of atherosclerotic lesions are associated with the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. To examine this hypothesis, we investigated different types of atherosclerotic lesions of rabbits fed with a cholesterol-rich diet for 6, 12, 16, and 28 weeks and examined their relationship with CRP. We measured the aortic atherosclerotic area, macrophages, and smooth muscle cells along with CRP contents in the lesions. Atherosclerotic lesions of aortas began to form at 6 weeks and were characterized by accumulation of macrophages in the intima, and lesions became more fibrotic in the advanced stage. Both plasma CRP levels and the lesional CRP contents were associated with the lesion size. Our results suggest that plasma CRP, as well as lesional CRP, associated with the formation and progression of atherosclerotic lesions
. Histol Histopathol 27, 529-535 (2012)

Key words: Inflammation, Atherosclerosis, C-reactive protein, Rabbits, Hypercholesterolemia