Coronary arteries contain a network of vasa vasorum in the adventitia. The three-dimensional anatomy of the vasa vasorum in early coronary atherosclerosis is unknown. This study was designed to visualize and quantitate the three-dimensional spatial pattern of vasa vasorum in normal and experimental hypercholesterolemic porcine coronary arteries, using a novel computed tomography technique. Animals were killed after being fed either a high cholesterol diet (n = 4) or a control diet (n = 4) for 12 wk. The proximal left anterior descending coronary artery was removed from the heart, scanned, and reconstructed, and quantitation of vasa vasorum density was performed. Two different types of vasa vasorum were defined: first-order vasa vasorum ran longitudinally parallel to the vessel and second-order originated from first-order vasa circumferentially around the vessel wall. Compared with controls in hypercholesterolemic coronary arteries, there was a significant increase in the area of the vessel wall (3.86 ± 0.22 vs. 8.07 ± 0.45 mm2, respectively, P < 0.01) and in the density of vasa vasorum (1.84 ± 0.05/mm2 vs. 4.73 ± 0.24/mm2; respectively, P = 0.0001). This occurred especially by an increase of second-order vasa vasorum and disorientation of normal vasa vasorum spatial pattern. This study suggests that adventitial neovascularization of vasa vasorum occurs in experimental hypercholesterolemic coronary arteries and may be a part of the early atherosclerotic remodeling process.
- Microscopic computed tomography
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