Background: The objective of this study was to test a novel model of inducing abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) in different mouse strains and genders. Materials and methods: Male and female C57BL/6 and B6129 mice (n = 5 per group) underwent periaortic dissection and porcine pancreatic elastase (30 μL) or inactivated elastase application (5 min) to the aorta. Aortic measurements were taken on days 0 and 14. Aortic samples were analyzed for histology and zymography for matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity. Comparison statistics were performed using unpaired t-test. Results: AAA phenotype (50% aortic increase) occurred in external elastase-treated males (100%) and females (90%). No control animals developed AAAs. The aortic diameter was larger in C57BL/6 and B6129 elastase-treated versus control males (P = 0.0028 and P < 0.0001, respectively) and females (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.0458, respectively). Histology verified phenotype via disrupted internal elastic laminae. Macrophage counts in elastase-treated animals were >6-fold higher than in controls (all groups significant). MMP9 activity was greater in elastase-treated males and females in C57BL/6 (P = 0.0031, P = 0.0004) and B6129 (P = 0.025, P = 0.2) mice; MMP2 activity was greater in C57BL/6 versus B6129 male elastase-treated mice. Conclusions: This rodent model produced AAAs in both genders and strains of mice. This model is simple, has little variability, and occurs in the infrarenal aorta, substantiating the external elastase model for future studies.
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