Identification of genomic differences among peripheral arterial beds in atherosclerotic and healthy arteries

Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 2;8(1):3940. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22292-y.


Calcification is independently associated with cardiovascular events and morbidity. The calcification burden in atherosclerotic lesions quantitatively and qualitatively differs between arterial beds. Cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) differentially affect plaque development between arterial beds. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of CVRF on atherosclerotic plaque calcification and to further study the molecular arterial heterogeneity that could account for these differences. Histological analysis was performed on atherosclerotic plaques from 153 carotid, 97 femoral and 28 infrapopliteal arteries. CVRF showed minor associations with plaque calcification: age and hypertension affected only the overall presence of calcification but not the type of the calcification, which significantly differed between arterial beds. Transcriptome analysis revealed distinct gene expression profiles associated with each territory in atherosclerotic and healthy arteries. Canonical pathway analysis showed the preferential involvement of immune system-related processes in both atherosclerotic and healthy carotid arteries. Bone development-related genes were among those mostly enriched in atherosclerotic and healthy femoral arteries, which are more prone to developing endochondral calcification. This study highlights the heterogeneous nature of arteries from different peripheral vascular beds and contributes to a better understanding of atherosclerosis formation and evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arteries / metabolism*
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics*
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Calcinosis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / pathology
  • Risk Factors