Cryotherapy increases features of plaque stability in atherosclerotic rabbits
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Pharmacy
, p. 1-10
University of Antwerp
Aims: In the last 10 years, cryotherapy has been investigated as a new technology to treat vascular disease. The efficiency of cryotherapy in stabilising atherosclerotic plaques has never been described. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effect of catheter-based cryotherapy on atherosclerotic plaque composition in a rabbit model of atherosclerosis. Methods and results: Twenty-four New Zealand white rabbits were fed a 0.3% cholesterol-supplemented diet for 24 weeks. At two predefined sites of the atherosclerotic thoracic aorta, catheter-based cryotherapy, applying either single-dose, double-dose cryotherapy or control inflation, was performed after randomisation. Rabbits were continued on a cholesterol-supplemented diet for one day (acute) or four weeks (chronic). One day after cryotherapy, apoptotic cell death of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and endothelial cells (ECs) was observed, whereas macrophages were unaffected. Four weeks later, the amount of SMCs was restored, the EC layer was regenerated, and a subendothelial macrophage-free layer was formed, indicative of a more stable plaque. In addition, both the thickness and the type I collagen content of the fibrous cap were increased. Conclusions: The present study demonstrated that cryotherapy is feasible and appears to stabilise atherosclerotic plaques in a rabbit model.