Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a manifestation of atherosclerosis characterized by reduced blood flow to the lower extremities and mobility loss. Preliminary evidence suggests PAD damages skeletal muscle, resulting in muscle impairments that contribute to functional decline. We sought to determine whether PAD is associated with an altered macrophage profile in gastrocnemius muscles and whether muscle macrophage populations are associated with impaired muscle phenotype and walking performance in patients with PAD.

Methods and Results

Macrophages, satellite cells, and extracellular matrix in gastrocnemius muscles from 25 patients with PAD and 7 patients without PAD were quantified using immunohistochemistry. Among patients with PAD, both the absolute number and percentage of cluster of differentiation (CD) 11b+CD206+ M2‐like macrophages positively correlated to satellite cell number (r=0.461 [P=0.023] and r=0.416 [P=0.042], respectively) but not capillary density or extracellular matrix. The number of CD11b+CD206− macrophages negatively correlated to 4‐meter walk tests at normal (r=−0.447, P=0.036) and fast pace (r=−0.510, P=0.014). Extracellular matrix occupied more muscle area in PAD compared with non‐PAD (8.72±2.19% versus 5.30±1.03%, P < 0.001) and positively correlated with capillary density (r=0.656, P < 0.001).


Among people with PAD, higher CD206+ M2‐like macrophage abundance was associated with greater satellite cell numbers and muscle fiber size. Lower CD206− macrophage abundance was associated with better walking performance. Further study is needed to determine whether CD206+ macrophages are associated with ongoing reparative processes enabling skeletal muscle adaptation to damage with PAD.


URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifiers: NCT00693940, NCT01408901, NCT0224660.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Journal of the American Heart Association, v. 9, no. 10.

Copyright © 2020 The Authors

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

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Funding Information

The work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants R01HL088589, R01HL083064, R01HL089619, R01HL107510, R21AG047510, R01HL109244, and R01HL126117 (McDermott).

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