Petru Liuba a , Erkki Pesonen a , Ilari Paakkari b , Satish Batra c , Leif Andersen d , Anders Forslid e , Seppo Ylä-Herttuala f , Kenneth Persson g , Torkel Wadström h , Xin Wang h , Ricardo Laurini i
19 June 2003
Background: Upregulation of proinflammatory endothelial cell adhesion molecules and decreased bioactivity of endothelial nitric oxide (NO) are important in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. We investigated the effects of co-infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae and Helicobacter pylori on these two events in apoE-KO mice. Methods: Thirty-two apoE-KO mice, 8 weeks old, were equally divided into 4 groups. The first 2 groups were infected with either C. pneumoniae or H. pylori, while the 3rd group was infected with both C. pneumoniae and H. pylori. Mice from the 4th group and 4 wild-type mice served as controls. Thoracic and abdominal aortas were harvested after 10 weeks, and staining for vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intracellular adhesion molecule-1 was analyzed by immunocytochemistry. The endothelial vasomotor responses of thoracic aortas to methacholine were studied in organ chambers in the absence and presence of L-NAME. The plasma levels of nitrate/nitrite were measured. Results: Staining for VCAM-1 was more intense at the branching sites of aortas from mice with co-infection than in mono-infected or noninfected apoE-KO mice. The relaxation responses to methacholine and the plasma levels of nitrate/nitrite were significantly less in the co-infected group than in the other groups (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Co-infection of apoE-KO mice with C. pneumoniae and H. pylori seems to be associated with impaired bioactivity of endothelial NO and increased expression of VCAM-1 at branching sites. The findings may suggest an additive interaction of these pathogens in atherogenesis.