Early Cellular Changes in the Ascending Aorta and Myocardium in a Swine Model of Metabolic Syndrome


Saraf R, Huang T, Mahmood F, Owais K, Bardia A, Khabbaz K, Liu D, Senthilanathan V, Lassaletta AD, Sellke F, et al. Early Cellular Changes in the Ascending Aorta and Myocardium in a Swine Model of Metabolic Syndrome. PLOS One. 2016;11 (1).


Background: Metabolic syndrome is associated with pathological remodeling of the heart and adjacent vessels. The early biochemical and cellular changes underlying the vascular damage are not fully understood. In this study, we sought to establish the nature, extent, and initial timeline of cytochemical derangements underlying reduced ventriculo-arterial compliance in a swine model of metabolic syndrome.

Methods: Yorkshire swine (n=16) were fed a normal diet (ND) or a high-cholesterol (HCD) for 12 weeks. Myocardial function and blood flow was assessed before harvesting the heart. Immuno-blotting and immuno-histochemical staining were used to assess the cellular changes in the myocardium, ascending aorta and left anterior descending artery (LAD).

Results: There was significant increase in body mass index, blood glucose and mean arterial pressures (p=0.002, p=0.001 and p=0.024 respectively) in HCD group. At the cellular level there was significant increase in anti-apoptotic factors p-Akt (p=0.007 and p=0.002) and Bcl-xL (p=0.05 and p=0.01) in the HCD aorta and myocardium, respectively. Pro-fibrotic markers TGF-β (p=0.01), pSmad1/5 (p=0.03) and MMP-9 (p=0.005) were significantly increased in the HCD aorta. The levels of pro-apoptotic p38MAPK, Apaf-1 and cleaved Caspase3 were significantly increased in aorta of HCD (p= 0.03, p=0.04 and p=0.007 respectively). Similar changes in coronary arteries were not observed in either group. Functionally, the high cholesterol diet resulted in significant increase in ventricular end systolic pressure and -dp/dt (p=0.05 and p=0.007 respectively) in the HCD group.

Conclusion: Preclinical metabolic syndrome initiates pro-apoptosis and pro-fibrosis pathways in the heart and ascending aorta, while sparing coronary arteries at this early stage of dietary modification.

Last updated on 03/04/2016