Coronary vasa vasorum neovascularization precedes epicardial endothelial dysfunction in experimental hypercholesterolemia

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183 Scopus citations


Objective: Experimental hypercholesterolemia is associated with vasa vasorum neovascularization, unknown to occur before or after initial lesion formation. Thus, this study was performed to determine the temporal course of neovascularization of coronary vasa vasorum in relation to endothelial dysfunction, a hallmark of early atherosclerosis. Methods: Female domestic pigs were fed a normal diet (Group 1), a hypercholesterolemic diet for 2 and 4 weeks (Group 2), or a hypercholesterolemic diet for 6 and 12 weeks (Group 3). In vitro analysis of relaxation response to bradykinin served as an index for epicardial endothelial function. Spatial pattern and density of coronary vasa vasorum were assessed by three-dimensional microscopic computed tomography. Results: Relaxation response of coronary arteries to bradykinin was normal in both Group 1 (93±6%) and Group 2 (89±7%) but impaired in Group 3 (71±11%; P<0.05 vs. Group 1 and 2). In contrast, density of coronary vasa vasorum was significantly higher in both Group 2 (4.88±2.45 per-mm2) and Group 3 (4.50±1.37 per-mm2) compared to Group 1 (2.97±1.37 per-mm2; P<0.05 vs. Group 2 and 3). Conclusion: This study demonstrates that coronary vasa vasorum neovascularization occurs within the first weeks of experimental hypercholesterolemia and prior to the development of endothelial dysfunction of the host vessel, suggesting a role for vasa vasorum neovascularization in the initial stage of atherosclerotic vascular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)762-766
Number of pages5
JournalCardiovascular research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Angiogenesis
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cholesterol
  • Coronary disease
  • Endothelial function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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