Murine atherosclerosis models are key for investigation of atherosclerosis pathophysiology and drug development. However, they do not feature spontaneous atherothrombosis as a final stage of atherosclerosis. Transgenic mice expressing both the human mutant apolipoprotein E form APOE*3-Leiden and human cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP), i.e. APOE*3-Leiden.CETP mice, feature a moderate hyperlipoproteinemia and atherosclerosis phenotype. In contrast to apolipoprotein E deficient (Apoeˉ/ˉ) mice, APOE*3-Leiden.CETP mice respond well to lipid-lowering and anti-atherosclerotic drugs. The aim of the study was to investigate whether silencing of anticoagulant Protein C (Proc) allows APOE*3-Leiden.CETP mice to feature thrombosis as a final stage of atherosclerosis. Female APOE*3-Leiden.CETP mice were fed a Western-type diet to induce advanced atherosclerosis, followed by an injection with a small interfering RNA targeting Proc (siProc). Presence of atherosclerosis and atherothrombosis was determined by histologic analysis of the aortic root. Atherosclerosis severity in the aortic root area of APOE*3-Leiden.CETP mice varied from type “0” (no lesions) to type “V” lesions (advanced and complex lesions). Atherothrombosis following siProc injection was observed for 4 out of 21 APOE*3-Leiden.CETP mice (19% incidence). The atherothrombosis presented as large, organized, fibrin- and leukocyte-rich thrombi on top of advanced (type “V”) atherosclerotic plaques in the aortic root. This atherothrombosis was comparable in appearance and incidence as previously reported for Apoeˉ/ˉ mice with a more severe atherosclerosis (19% incidence). APOE*3-Leiden.CETP mice with modest hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis can develop atherothrombosis upon transient Proc-silencing. This further extends the use of these mice as a test model for lipid-lowering and anti-atherosclerotic drugs.
- Apolipoprotein E3
- Protein C