Background- The endothelium of healthy aortic valves expresses different phenotypes on the aortic and ventricular sides. On the aortic side, which is susceptible to aortic valve sclerosis, there is a balanced coexpression of both propathological and protective pathways. Side-specific global gene expression can address endothelial phenotype balance in early aortic valve sclerosis.
Methods and results: Adult male swine were fed a hypercholesterolemic or an isocaloric normal diet for 2-week and 6-month periods. Hypercholesterolemia induced localized lipid insudation confined to the aortic side of the leaflet. Transcript profiling of valve endothelial populations showed that the susceptible aortic side was more sensitive to 2-week hypercholesterolemia than the ventricular side (1,325 vs 87 genes were differentially expressed). However, greater sensitivity was not evidence of a dysfunctional phenotype. Instead, pathway analyses identified differential expression of caspase 3-, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma-, TNF-alpha-, and nuclear factor-kappaB-related pathways that were consistent with a protective endothelial phenotype. This was confirmed at the protein level at 2 weeks and persisted at 6 months.
Conclusions: In a large animal model at high spatial resolution, endothelium on the pathosusceptible side of the aortic valve leaflet is responsive to hypercholesterolemia. Transcript profiles indicative of a protective phenotype were induced and persisted on the side prone to aortic valve sclerosis.