Clonal characteristics in layers of human atherosclerotic plaques. A study of the selection hypothesis of monoclonality

T. A. Pearson, J. M. Dillman, K. Solez, R. H. Heptinstall

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19 Scopus citations


Two hypotheses have been proposed to explain the origin of monoclonal cell populations within human atherosclerotic plaques. The first of these proposes a mutational origin; the second suggests that the single clone of cells with the greatest proliferative advantage is selected following repetitive intimal injury. If the selection hypothesis is true, monoclonality should be observed more frequently in the layer of plaque most recently formed. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD) isoenzymes were used as cellular markers in aortas of females heterozygous for the A and B isoenzymes. Ten plaques were divided into 45 portions, each of which was subdivided into upper layer, lower layer, and underlying media. No predominance of monoclonality was observed in the upper or lower layers of plaque, with 53% of samples from each layer being monoclonal. In all, 73% of portions of plaque contained at least one monoclonal layer. The layers tended to resemble each other in their clonal characteristics, with 60% of portions having layers with the same clonal characteristics. A significant correlation between isoenzyme distributions in upper and lower layers of the same portion was observed. No consistent trends in isoenzyme distribution in the three layers of each portion were observed. The results are interpreted as providing no evidence for clonal selection as the mechanism by which human atherosclerotic plaques become monoclonal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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