Background and aims: A vulnerable plaque is an atherosclerotic plaque that is rupture-prone with a higher risk to cause cardiovascular symptoms such as myocardial infarction or stroke. Mimecan or osteoglycin is a small leucine-rich proteoglycan, important for collagen fibrillogenesis, that has been implicated in atherosclerotic disease, yet the role of mimecan in human atherosclerotic disease remains unknown.

Methods: 196 human atherosclerotic carotid plaques were immunostained for mimecan. Smooth muscle cells, macrophages and intraplaque haemorrhage were also measured with immunohistochemistry. Neutral lipids were stained with Oil Red O and calcium deposits were quantified. Plaque homogenate levels of MCP-1, IL-6 and MIP-1β were measured using a Proximity Extension Assay and MMP-9 levels were measured using Mesoscale. Glycosaminoglycans, collagen and elastin were assessed by colorimetric assays and TGF-β1, β2 and β3 were measured using a multiplex assay. Mimecan gene expression in THP-1 derived macrophages was quantified by qPCR and protein expression in vitro was visualized with immunofluorescence. Cardiovascular events were registered using medical charts and national registers during follow-up.

Results: Mimecan correlated positively with plaque area of lipids, macrophages, intraplaque haemorrhage and inversely with smooth muscle cell staining. Mimecan also correlated positively with plaque levels of MMP-9 and MCP-1. Mimecan was upregulated in THP-1 derived macrophages upon stimulation with MCP-1. Patients with high levels of mimecan (above median) had higher risk for cardiovascular death.

Conclusions: This study indicates that mimecan is associated with a vulnerable plaque phenotype, possibly regulated by plaque inflammation. In line, plaque levels of mimecan independently predict future cardiovascular death.

Go to full publication


Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or other inquiries.

Are you interested in learning more about Nordic Bioscience?
Enter your information in the form and a representative will contact you shortly.

By submitting this form you agree to our terms and conditions.