Aortic valve stenosis (AS) is the most common valve disease requiring therapeutic intervention. Even though the incidence of AS has been continuously rising and AS is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, to date, no medical treatments have been identified that can modify disease progression. This unmet medical need is likely attributed to an incomplete understanding of the molecular mechanism driving disease development. To investigate the pathophysiology leading to AS, reliable and reproducible animal models that mimic human pathophysiology are needed. We have tested and expanded the protocols of a wire-injury induced AS mouse model. For this model, coronary wires were used to apply shear stress to the aortic valve cusps with increasing intensity. These protocols allowed distinction of mild, moderate and severe wire-injury. Upon moderate or severe injury, AS developed with a significant increase in aortic valve peak blood flow velocity. While moderate injury promoted solitary AS, severe-injury induced mixed aortic valve disease with concomitant mild to moderate aortic regurgitation. The changes in aortic valve function were reflected by dilation and hypertrophy of the left ventricle, as well as a decreased left ventricular ejection fraction. Histological analysis revealed the classic hallmarks of human disease with aortic valve thickening, increased macrophage infiltration, fibrosis and calcification. This new mouse model of AS promotes functional and morphological changes similar to moderate and severe human AS. It can be used to investigate the pathomechanisms contributing to AS development and to test novel therapeutic strategies.
Keywords: Animal models; Aortic valve stenosis; Calcification; Inflammation.