Old Fischer 344 rats are more susceptible to vascular lesions after arterial endothelial injury than are young animals. Thus, 20-26-mo-old Fischer 344 rats developed greater and more persistent intimal proliferative lesions than did 2-5-mo-old rats after aortic endothelial denudation. 3 d after deendothelialization, intimal thickness was increased two-fold in both old and young animals. However, 14 d after endothelial injury, intimal thickness had increased nearly five times in old animals, but had regressed to normal in young animals. Intimal thickness of young aortic grafts transplanted into young recipients did not differ significantly from adjacent host aorta or autotransplanted aortic segments 6 wk after surgery. In contrast, intimal thickness of old grafts transplanted into young recipients was eight times greater than adjacent young host aorta 6 wk after surgery. The density of cell nuclei in the intima of old grafts was also much greater than that in young grafts. Thus, in two experimental models of vascular injury, old rats have consistently had greater myointimal hyperplasia than young rats. The increased proliferative response of aortic smooth muscle cells after vascular injury of old animals may contribute to the increased prevalence of vascular disease with age.

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