• atherosclerosis;
  • circumferential wall tension;
  • hypertension;
  • intimal and medial remodelling;
  • neointimal plaque


The present study was carried out to investigate the role of hypertension in the genesis and localization of intimal lesions and medial remodelling found in the prestenotic segment in relation to a severe stenosis of the abdominal aorta just below the diaphragm. Male young rats were divided randomly into operated group, animals submitted to surgical abdominal aorta stenosis, and sham-operated group, a control group of animals submitted to sham operation to simulate abdominal aorta stenosis. Aortas in the hypertensive prestenotic segment with increased circumferential wall tension associated with normal tensile stress, laminar flow/normal wall shear stress were characterized by enlarged heterogeneous endothelial cells elongated in the direction of the blood flow, diffusely distributed conspicuous neointimal plaques and medial thickening. The immunohistochemical analysis revealed an increased expression of eNOS, iNOS, nitrotyrosine and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) in endothelial cells and/or smooth muscle cells in this segment. Our findings suggest that increased circumferential wall tension due to hypertension plays a pivotal role in the remodelling of the prestenotic segment through biomechanical effects on oxidative stress and increased TGF-β expression. Further studies are needed to clarify the intrinsic pathogenetic mechanism of focal distribution of the neointimal plaques in the hypertensive segment.