Animal, in vitro, and ex vivo models of flow-dependent atherosclerosis: role of oxidative stress

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 Sep 1;15(5):1433-48. doi: 10.1089/ars.2010.3365. Epub 2010 Dec 4.


Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease preferentially occurring in curved or branched arterial regions, whereas straight parts of the arteries are protected, suggesting a close relationship between flow and atherosclerosis. However, evidence directly linking disturbed flow to atherogenesis is just emerging, thanks to the recent development of suitable animal models. In this article, we review the status of various animal, in vitro, and ex vivo models that have been used to study flow-dependent vascular biology and atherosclerosis. For animal models, naturally flow-disturbed regions such as branched or curved arterial regions as well as surgically created models, including arterio-venous fistulas, vascular grafts, perivascular cuffs, and complete, incomplete, or partial ligation of arteries, are used. Although in vivo models provide the environment needed to mimic the complex pathophysiological processes, in vitro models provide simple conditions that allow the study of isolated factors. Typical in vitro models use cultured endothelial cells exposed to various flow conditions, using devices such as cone-and-plate and parallel-plate chambers. Ex vivo models using isolated vessels have been used to bridge the gap between complex in vivo models and simple in vitro systems. Here, we review these flow models in the context of the role of oxidative stress in flow-dependent inflammation, a critical proatherogenic step, and atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Coculture Techniques / instrumentation
  • Coculture Techniques / methods
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Shear Strength
  • Stress, Mechanical