The carotid artery balloon injury model in rats has been well established for over two decades. It remains an important method to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in vascular smooth muscle dedifferentiation, neointima formation and vascular remodeling. Male Sprague-Dawley rats are the most frequently employed animals for this model. Female rats are not preferred as female hormones are protective against vascular diseases and thus introduce a variation into this procedure. The left carotid is typically injured with the right carotid serving as a negative control. Left carotid injury is caused by the inflated balloon that denudes the endothelium and distends the vessel wall. Following injury, potential therapeutic strategies such as the use of pharmacological compounds and either gene or shRNA transfer can be evaluated. Typically for gene or shRNA transfer, the injured section of the vessel lumen is locally transduced for 30 min with viral particles encoding either a protein or shRNA for delivery and expression in the injured vessel wall. Neointimal thickening representing proliferative vascular smooth muscle cells usually peaks at 2 weeks after injury. Vessels are mostly harvested at this time point for cellular and molecular analysis of cell signaling pathways as well as gene and protein expression. Vessels can also be harvested at earlier time points to determine the onset of expression and/or activation of a specific protein or pathway, depending on the experimental aims intended. Vessels can be characterized and evaluated using histological staining, immunohistochemistry, protein/mRNA assays, and activity assays. The intact right carotid artery from the same animal is an ideal internal control. Injury-induced changes in molecular and cellular parameters can be evaluated by comparing the injured artery to the internal right control artery. Likewise, therapeutic modalities can be evaluated by comparing the injured and treated artery to the control injured only artery.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)