PloS one

Voluntary Exercise Stabilizes Established Angiotensin II-Dependent Atherosclerosis in Mice through Systemic Anti-Inflammatory Effects.

PMID 26600018


We have previously demonstrated that exercise training prevents the development of Angiotensin (Ang) II-induced atherosclerosis and vulnerable plaques in Apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE-/-) mice. In this report, we investigated whether exercise attenuates progression and promotes stability in pre-established vulnerable lesions. To this end, ApoE-/- mice with already established Ang II-mediated advanced and vulnerable lesions (2-kidney, 1-clip [2K1C] renovascular hypertension model), were subjected to sedentary (SED) or voluntary wheel running training (EXE) regimens for 4 weeks. Mean blood pressure and plasma renin activity did not significantly differ between the two groups, while total plasma cholesterol significantly decreased in 2K1C EXE mice. Aortic plaque size was significantly reduced by 63% in 2K1C EXE compared to SED mice. Plaque stability score was significantly higher in 2K1C EXE mice than in SED ones. Aortic ICAM-1 mRNA expression was significantly down-regulated following EXE. Moreover, EXE significantly down-regulated splenic pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-18, and IL-1β mRNA expression while increasing that of anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-4. Reduction in plasma IL-18 levels was also observed in response to EXE. There was no significant difference in aortic and splenic Th1/Th2 and M1/M2 polarization markers mRNA expression between the two groups. Our results indicate that voluntary EXE is effective in slowing progression and promoting stabilization of pre-existing Ang II-dependent vulnerable lesions by ameliorating systemic inflammatory state. Our findings support a therapeutic role for voluntary EXE in patients with established atherosclerosis.