Neointima formation in the rat carotid artery is exacerbated by dietary copper deficiency

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2002 Jul;227(7):487-91.


Dietary copper is an essential trace element with roles in both functional and structural aspects of the cardiovascular system. In particular, the vascular response to inflammatory stimuli is known to be significantly augmented in copper-deficient rats. The current study was designed to quantify the extent of injury-induced neointimal proliferation and stenosis in rats fed diets either adequate or deficient in copper. Male, weanling Sprague-Dawley rats were fed purified diets that were either adequate (CuA; 5.6 microg Cu/g) or deficient (CuD; 0.3 microg Cu/g) in copper for 4 weeks. Balloon injury was induced in the left external carotid arteries. Fourteen days after injury, histomorphometric analysis of cross-sections from carotid arteries showed increased neointimal formation in the CuD group compared with the CuA controls (neointima/media ratio: 4.55 +/- 0.93 vs 1.45 +/- 0.2, respectively). These results correspond with data indicating that the activity of Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD) is depressed in rats fed this CuD diet. Because superoxide anion and redox status are known to play a key role in the extent of neointimal formation in response to injury, we propose that the exaggerated neointimal proliferation seen in the CuD group is the result of the diminished Cu/Zn-SOD activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary / adverse effects
  • Animals
  • Carotid Artery Injuries / enzymology
  • Carotid Artery Injuries / etiology
  • Carotid Artery Injuries / pathology*
  • Carotid Artery, External / enzymology
  • Carotid Artery, External / pathology*
  • Carotid Stenosis / enzymology
  • Carotid Stenosis / etiology
  • Carotid Stenosis / pathology
  • Copper / administration & dosage
  • Copper / deficiency*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Tunica Intima / pathology*


  • Copper
  • Superoxide Dismutase