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The CX3C chemokine receptor CX3CR1 is expressed on monocytes as well as tissue resident cells, such as smooth muscle cells (SMCs). Its role in atherosclerotic tissue remodeling of the aorta after transplantation has not been investigated. We here have orthotopically transplanted infrarenal Cx3cr1-/-Apoe-/- and Cx3cr1+/+Apoe-/- aortic segments into Apoe-/-mice, as well as Apoe-/- aortic segments into Cx3cr1-/-Apoe-/- mice. The intimal plaque size and cellular plaque composition of the transplanted aortic segment were analyzed after four weeks of atherogenic diet. Transplantation of Cx3cr-/-Apoe-/- aortic segments into Apoe-/- mice resulted in reduced atherosclerotic plaque formation compared to plaque size in Apoe-/- or Cx3cr1-/-Apoe-/- mice after transplantation of Apoe-/- aortas. This reduction in lesion formation was associated with reduced numbers of lesional SMCs but not macrophages within the transplanted Cx3cr-/- Apoe-/- aortic segment. No differences in frequencies of proliferating and apoptotic cells could be observed. These results indicate that CX3CR1 on resident vessel wall cells plays a key role in atherosclerotic plaque formation in transplanted aortic grafts. Targeting of vascular CX3CL1/CX3CR1 may therefore be explored as a therapeutic option in vascular transplantation procedures.


Zuzanna Rowinska, Thomas A Koeppel, Maryam Sanati, Hubert Schelzig, Joachim Jankowski, Christian Weber, Alma Zernecke, Elisa A Liehn. Role of the CX3C chemokine receptor CX3CR1 in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis after aortic transplantation. PloS one. 2017;12(2):e0170644

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PMID: 28234900

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