Monocyte accumulation in mouse atherogenesis is progressive and proportional to extent of disease

Filip K. Swirski, Mikael J. Pittet, Moritz F. Kircher, Elena Aikawa, Farouc A. Jaffer, Peter Libby, Ralph Weissleder

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296 Scopus citations


Monocytes participate importantly in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, but their spatial and temporal recruitment from circulation remains uncertain. This study tests the hypothesis that monocyte accumulation in atheroma correlates with the extent of disease by using a sensitive and simple quantitative assay that allows tracking of highly enriched populations of blood monocytes. A two-step isolation method yielded viable and functionally intact highly enriched peripheral blood monocyte populations (>90%). Recipient mice received syngeneic monocytes labeled in two ways: by transgenically expressing EGFP or with a radioactive tracer [111In]oxine. After 5 days, more labeled cells accumulated in the aorta, principally the aortic root and ascending aorta, of 10-wk-old ApoE-/- compared with 10-wk-old C57BL/6 mice (223 ± 3 vs. 87 ± 22 cells per aorta). Considerably more monocytes accumulated in 20-wk-old ApoE-/- mice on either chow (314 ± 41 cells) or high-cholesterol diet (395 ± 53 cells). Fifty-week-old ApoE-/- mice accumulated even more monocytes in the aortic root, ascending aorta, and thoracic aorta after both chow (503 ± 67 cells) or high-cholesterol diet (648 ± 81 cells). Labeled monocyte content in the aorta consistently correlated with lesion surface area. These data indicate that monocytes accumulate continuously during atheroma formation, accumulation increases in proportion to lesion size, and recruitment is augmented with hypercholesterolemia. These results provide insights into mechanisms of atherogenesis and have implications for the duration of therapies directed at leukocyte recruitment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10340-10345
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number27
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Imaging
  • Leukocyte


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