Effect of metoprolol on vulnerable plaque in rabbits by changing shear stress around plaque and reducing inflammation

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The β-adrenoceptor antagonists are known to reduce cardiovascular events, but less is known about their effects on vulnerable plaque. The purpose of this study is to explore the role of metoprolol on vulnerable plaque and the possible mechanism. Vulnerable plaque model was established by local transfection with p53 gene in New Zealand Rabbits. Metoprolol treatment attenuated vessel positive remodeling and reduced vulnerability index (1.61 ± 0.58 vs. 2.33 ± 0.12, P < 0.01). Although the difference did not reach statistical significance, the rate of rupture of atherosclerotic plaque (31% vs. 75%) and intima-media thickness (0.05 ±0.01 vs. 0.08 ± 0.01 cm) were less in the metoprolol group than in the control group. The level of shear stress-related inflammatory cytokines such as intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), vascular adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP-1), were lower in the metoprolol group than in the control group (P < 0.01). Compared with control group, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were lower (P < 0.01) in the metoprolol group. After metoprolol treatment, shear stress increased, and was not different to baseline (physiological shear stress, P > 0.05). Shear stress and vulnerability index showed a negative correlation. These findings suggest that metoprolol could inhibit the development of atherosclerosis and stabilize vulnerable plaque by regulation of lipid and reduction of inflammation, in which the change from low shear stress to physiological shear stress around plaque may play an important role.

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