Perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT), as a mechanical support, has been reported to systemically regulate vascular physiology by secreting adipokines and cytokines. How PVAT spatially and locally changes as atherosclerosis progresses is not known, however. We aimed to reveal the molecular changes in PVAT in advanced atherosclerosis based on multimodal nonlinear optical (MNLO) imaging. First, using an atherogenic apolipoprotein E knockout mouse model, we precisely assessed the browning level of thoracic PVAT via a correlative analysis between the size and number of lipid droplets (LDs) of label-free MNLO images. We also biochemically demonstrated the increased level of brown fat markers in the PVAT of atherosclerosis. In the initial stage of atherosclerosis, the PVAT showed a highly activated brown fat feature due to the increased energy expenditure; however, in the advanced stage, only the PVAT in the regions of the atherosclerotic plaques, not that in the nonplaque regions, showed site-specific changes. We found that p-smad2/3 and TGF-β signaling enhanced the increase in collagen to penetrate the PVAT and the agglomeration of LDs only at the sites of atherosclerotic plaques. Moreover, atherosclerotic thoracic PVAT (tPVAT) was an increased inflammatory response. Taken together, our findings show that PVAT changes differentially from the initial stages to advanced stages of atherosclerosis and undergoes spatial impairment focused on atherosclerotic plaques. Our study may provide insight into the local control of PVAT as a therapeutic target.
perivascular adipose tissue, atherosclerosis, multimodal nonlinear optical imaging