Background: Atherosclerosis is a complex vascular inflammatory disease. In the last decade it was suggested that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and in particular inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 are associated with an increase in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Aspirin is known to reduce the incidence and mortality from ischemic heart disease and is a mainstay in the prevention of vascular complications of atherosclerosis.
Objectives: To examine the effect of meloxicam, a selective COX-2 inhibitor, or low dose aspirin on the development of experimental atherosclerosis in apoE knockout (KO) compared to wild-type (WT) mice. We aimed to test the hypothesis that meloxicam, a potential vasculitis inducer, would exacerbate atherosclerotic lesions while aspirin, which is known to reduce the incidence of thrombosis occlusive events, would increase protection in this model.
Methods: We randomly divided 36 male apoE KO and 36 WT mice, 8 weeks old. Mice were treated for 10 weeks with 0.1 mg/ml aspirin, or 0.05 mg/ml meloxicam, dissolved in their drinking water. Control groups received regular drinking water. At sacrifice, the hearts were removed for histochemical staining and plaque size and composition were examined.
Results: Aspirin-treated animals displayed a decreased atherosclerotic lesion area compared to the untreated control mice, while meloxicam had a null effect on the extent of atherosclerosis in Apo E KO mice.
Conclusions: These results suggest that low dose aspirin reduces early atherosclerosis, while inhibition of COX-2 by meloxicam is not associated with an increase in atherosclerotic plaque size in this mouse model.