BACKGROUND: Increased prevalence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected patients has been observed. The cause of this accelerated atherosclerosis is a matter of controversy. As clinical studies are complicated by a multiplicity of risk-factors and a low incidence of hard endpoints, studies in animal models could be attractive alternatives. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We evaluated gene expression of lectin-like oxidized-low-density-lipoprotein receptor-1 (LOX-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) in HIV-1 transgenic (HIV-1Tg) rats; these genes are all thought to play important roles in early atherogenesis. Furthermore, the plasma level of sICAM-1 was measured. We found that gene expressions of LOX-1 and VCAM-1 were higher in the aortic arch of HIV-1Tg rats compared to controls. Also, the level of sICAM-1 was elevated in the HIV-1Tg rats compared to controls, but the ICAM-1 gene expression profile did not show any differences between the groups. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: HIV-1Tg rats have gene expression patterns indicating endothelial dysfunction and accelerated atherosclerosis in aorta, suggesting that HIV-infection per se may cause atherosclerosis. This transgenic rat model may be a very promising model for further studies of the pathophysiology behind HIV-associated cardiovascular disease.
Keywords: Animals; Aorta; Calibration; Gene Expression Regulation; HIV-1; Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1; Male; Organ Specificity; Rats; Rats, Transgenic; Scavenger Receptors, Class E; Solubility; Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1