The ploidy of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) enzymatically isolated from the aorta and superior mesenteric artery (elastic arteries), caudal artery (small muscular artery) and the small mesenteric arteries and arterioles (mesenteric resistance vessels) of the spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) and Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats at ages 12, 26, 32 and 40 weeks was determined by flow cytometric DNA analysis and Feulgen-DNA photometric measurements. Frequency of polyploid cells in the aorta and superior mesenteric artery of the SHR increased from 4.43 ± 1.35 and 7.58 ± 1.69%, respectively, at 12 weeks to 31.26 ± 3.00 and 14.13 ± 1.30% at 40 weeks. There was a smaller increase in the percentage of polyploid cells in these two vessels of the WKY from 4.73 ± 0.74 and 5.82 ± 0.33%, respectively, at 12 weeks to 10.64 ± 0.17 and 7.68 ± 0.64% at 40 weeks. The caudal artery and mesenteric resistance vessels showed no significant increase in the percentage of 4N (tetraploid) cells in the SHR from 12 weeks (6.80 ± 0.92 and 6.10 ± 0.75%) to 40 weeks (7.83 ± 0.67 and 7.57 ± 0.07%). Similarly, there was no significant change in ploidy in these arteries of WKY. Hence, while polyploidy of SMCs increases in the aorta and superior mesenteric artery of the rat with increasing age and with duration of hypertension, there is no significant change in the number of polyploid cells in smaller vessels such as the caudal artery or mesenteric resistance vessels. Since it is the resistance vessels that are involved in the development and maintenance of hypertension, polyploidy of SMCs in the blood vessel wall appears to hold little relevance to the etiology of this disease. As well, increased incidence of polyploidy is not directly attributable to increases in blood pressure as the caudal artery has a high systolic pressure in the SHR yet the incidence of polyploid cells in this artery does not differ from that of the WKY.
- Resistance vessels
- Smooth muscle cells
- Spontaneously hypertensive rat