Pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) is a novel zinc metalloproteinase implicated in cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to determine whether a reduction in PAPP-A expression in the adult affects the progression of established atherosclerotic plaque. Apolipoprotein E-null mice were fed a high-fat diet for 5 weeks to initiate early-stage plaque development before tamoxifen-inducible, Cre recombinase-mediated excision of the floxed PAPP-A gene. Highfat feeding was continued, and after 10 weeks the aorta and brachiocephalic artery were harvested for atherosclerotic plaque analyses of overall burden and morphology, respectively. An inducible decrease in PAPP-A gene expression significantly inhibited atherosclerotic plaque progression as assessed by a 70% reduction in plaque burden in the aorta (P = .012) without an effect on the elevated circulating levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in this model. Furthermore, this reduction in PAPP-A prevented the development of advanced plaque with necrotic cores and buried fibrous caps in the brachiocephalic artery. These data indicate PAPP-A as a potential target to limit progression of established atherosclerotic plaque.
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