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Open Access Vascular-associated Lymphoid Tissue in Swine (Sus scrofa)

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Focal accumulations of mononuclear cells in the arterial wall of healthy humans at predilection sites for atherosclerotic lesions have been described as 'vascular-associated lymphoid tissue' (VALT). Here we investigated whether pigs (Sus scrofa), a commonly used animal model for studying cardiovascular disease, have VALT. Samples of major arteries were collected from 10 conventional crossbred pigs (age, 2 to 24 mo) and processed for routine light microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescence. Single or small aggregates of mononuclear cells were noted in the intima and occasionally the inner portion of the tunica media and adventitia at branching sites. The infiltrating cells were primarily CD3+CD4+ T cells, with some macrophages. No CD8+ T cells were present. Infiltrating leukocytes and overlying endothelial cells frequently expressed major histocompatibility class II molecules. Two Ossabaw pigs on low-fat diet had similar leukocytic aggregates at locations where animals of the same breed but fed a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet developed atherosclerotic lesions. Further, the densities of CD3+ T lymphocytes and in these areas were decreased in 2 sedentary and 2 exercised Ossabaw pigs on an atherogenic diet compared with conventional crossbred and Ossabaw pigs on a normal diet. This study shows that focal aggregates of lymphocytes occur in the vasculature of pigs at locations predisposed to development of atherosclerotic lesions. These cellular aggregates are similar to the structures described as VALT in human arteries and reinforce the value of the pig as a model for the study of human cardiovascular disease.

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Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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