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Transauricular balloon angioplasty in rabbit thoracic aorta: a novel model of experimental restenosis

Ioanna Koniari18*, Efstratios Apostolakis2, Athanasios Diamantopoulos3, Helen Papadaki4, Evangelia Papadimitriou5, Evangelia Poimenidi5, Dimitrios Karnabatidis3, Anna Karahaliou6, Lena Costaridou6, Apostolos Papalois7, Dimitrios Siablis3, Dimitrios Dougenis1 and Dimitrios Alexopoulos8

Author Affiliations

1 Cardiothoracic Surgery Department, University Hospital of Patras, Rion Patras zip 25500, Greece

2 Cardiothoracic Surgery Department of Ioannina University Hospital, Ioannina, Greece

3 Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Patras University Hospital, School of Medicine, Rion Patras, Greece

4 Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, University of Patras, Patras, Greece

5 Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy, University of Patras, Patras, Greece

6 Department of Medical Physics, School of Medicine, University of Patras, Patras, Greece

7 Experimental-Research Center ELPEN Pharmaceuticals, Athens, Greece

8 Cardiology Department of Patras University Hospital, Rion Patras, Greece

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2014, 13:33  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-33

Published: 15 February 2014



The aim of this study was to demonstrate a percutaneous transauricular method of balloon angioplasty in high-cholesterol fed rabbits, as an innovative atherosclerosis model.


Twenty male New Zealand rabbits were randomly divided into two groups of ten animals, as follows: atherogenic diet plus balloon angioplasty (group A) and atherogenic diet alone (group B). Balloon angioplasty was performed in the descending thoracic aorta through percutaneous catheterization of the auricular artery. Eight additional animals fed regular diet were served as long term control. At the end of 9 week period, rabbits were euthanized and thoracic aortas were isolated for histological, immunohistochemical and biochemical analysis.


Atherogenic diet induced severe hypercholesterolemia in both group A and B (2802 ± 188.59 and 4423 ± 493.39 mg/dl respectively) compared to the control animals (55.5 ± 11.82 mg/dl; P < 0.001). Group A atherosclerotic lesions appeared to be more advanced histologically (20% type IV and 80% type V) compared to group B lesions (50% type III and 50% type IV). Group A compared to group B atherosclerotic lesions demonstrated similar percentage of macrophages (79.5 ± 9.56% versus 84 ± 12.2%; P = 0.869), more smooth muscle cells (61 ± 14.10% versus 40.5 ± 17.07; P = 0.027), increased intima/media ratio (1.20 ± 0.50 versus 0.62 ± 0.13; P = 0.015) despite the similar degree of intimal hyperplasia (9768 ± 1826.79 μm2 versus 12205 ± 8789.23 μm2; P = 0.796), and further significant lumen deterioration (23722 ± 4508.11 versus 41967 ± 20344.61 μm2; P = 0.05) and total vessel area reduction (42350 ± 5819.70 versus 73190 ± 38902.79 μm2; P = 0.022). Group A and B animals revealed similar nitrated protein percentage (P = NS), but significantly higher protein nitration compared to control group (P < 0.01; P < 0.01, respectively). No deaths or systemic complications were reported.


Transauricular balloon angioplasty constitutes a safe, minimally invasive and highly successful model of induced atherosclerosis in hyperlipidaemic rabbits.

Atherosclerosis; Restenosis; Hypercholesterolemic diet; Balloon angioplasty; Oxidative stress; Remodelling; Intima/media ratio