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Disease Markers
Volume 2015, Article ID 465242, 12 pages
Research Article

Site-Specific Secretome Map Evidences VSMC-Related Markers of Coronary Atherosclerosis Grade and Extent in the Hypercholesterolemic Swine

1National Research Council, Institute of Clinical Physiology, Via Moruzzi, 56124 Pisa, Italy
2Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Via Volta, 56126 Pisa, Italy

Received 8 February 2015; Revised 29 April 2015; Accepted 23 June 2015

Academic Editor: Andreas Pich

Copyright © 2015 Silvia Rocchiccioli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A major drawback in coronary atherosclerosis (ATS) research is the difficulty of investigating early phase of plaque growth and related features in the clinical context. In this study, secreted proteins from atherosclerotic coronary arteries in a hypercholesterolemic swine model were characterized by a proteomics approach and their expression was correlated to site-specific ATS stage and extent. A wide coronary artery map of secreted proteins has been obtained in high fat (HF) diet induced ATS swine model and a significantly different expression of many proteins related to vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) activation/migration has been identified. Significant associations with ATS stage of HF coronary lesions were found for several VSMC-derived proteins and validated for chitinase 3 like protein 1 (CHI3L1) by tissue immunoexpression. A direct correlation was evidenced with intima to media thickness ratio values and ELISA confirmed the higher blood concentrations of CHI3L1 in HF cases. These findings confirmed the pivotal role of VSMCs in coronary plaque development and demonstrated a strong site-specific relation between VSMC-secreted CHI3L1 and lesion grade, suggesting that this protein could be proposed as a useful biomarker for diagnosing and staging of atherosclerotic lesions in coronary artery disease.