Semaglutide treatment attenuates vessel remodelling in ApoE−/− mice following vascular injury and blood flow perturbation

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Background and aims: Randomized clinical studies have shown a reduction in cardiovascular outcomes with glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) treatment with the hypothesized mechanisms being an underlying effect on atherosclerosis. Here, we aimed to assess the pharmacological effects of semaglutide in an atheroprone murine model that recapitulates central mechanisms related to vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) phenotypic switching and endothelial dysfunction known to operate within the atherosclerotic plaque. Methods: In study A, we employed an electrical current to the carotid artery in ApoE−/− mice to induce severe VSMC injury and death, after which the arteries were allowed to heal for 4 weeks. In study B, a constrictive cuff was added for 6 h at the site of the healed segment to induce a disturbance in blood flow. Results: Compared to vehicle, semaglutide treatment reduced the intimal and medial area by ∼66% (p = 0.007) and ∼11% (p = 0.0002), respectively. Following cuff placement, expression of the pro-inflammatory marker osteopontin and macrophage marker Mac-2 was reduced (p < 0.05) in the semaglutide-treated group compared to vehicle. GLP-1R were not expressed in murine carotid artery and human coronary vessels with and without atherosclerotic plaques, and semaglutide treatment did not affect proliferation of cultured primary human VSMCs. Conclusions: Semaglutide treatment reduced vessel remodelling following electrical injury and blood flow perturbation in an atheroprone mouse model. This effect appears to be driven by anti-inflammatory and -proliferative mechanisms independent of GLP-1 receptor-mediated signalling in the resident vascular cells. This mechanism of action may be important for cardiovascular protection.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAtherosclerosis Plus
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022 The Author(s)

    Research areas

  • Atherosclerosis, Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists, Phenotypic switching, Plaque erosion, Semaglutide, Vascular injury, Vascular smooth muscle cells

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