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Am J Pathol. 2003 Sep;163(3):1201-13.

Induction of fatal inflammation in LDL receptor and ApoA-I double-knockout mice fed dietary fat and cholesterol.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


Atherogenic response to dietary fat and cholesterol challenge was evaluated in mice lacking both the LDL receptor (LDLr(-/-)) and apoA-I (apoA-I(-/-)) gene, LDLr(-/-)/apoA-I(-/-) or double-knockout mice. Gender- and age-matched LDLr(-/-)/apoA-I(-/-) mice were fed a diet consisting of 0.1% cholesterol and 10% palm oil for 16 weeks and compared to LDLr(-/-) mice or single-knockout mice. The LDLr(-/-) mice showed a 6- to 7-fold increase in total plasma cholesterol (TPC) compared to their chow-fed mice counterparts, while LDLr(-/-)/apoA-I(-/-) mice showed only a 2- to 3-fold increase in TPC compared to their chow-fed controls. This differential response to the atherogenic diet was unanticipated, since chow-fed LDLr(-/-) and LDLr(-/-)/apoA-I(-/-) mice began the study with similar LDL levels and differed primarily in their HDL concentration. The 6-fold diet-induced increase in TPC observed in the LDLr(-/-) mice occurred mainly in VLDL/LDL and not in HDL. Mid-study plasma samples taken after 8 weeks of diet feeding showed that LDLr(-/-) mice had TPC concentrations approximately 60% of their 16-week level, while the LDLr(-/-)/apoA-I(-/-) mice had reached 100% of their 16-week TPC concentration after only 8 weeks of diet. Male LDLr(-/-) mice showed similar aortic cholesterol levels to male LDLr(-/-)/apoA-I(-/-) mice despite a 4-fold higher VLDL/LDL concentration in the LDLr(-/-) mice. A direct comparison of the severity of aortic atherosclerosis between female LDLr(-/-) and LDLr(-/-)/apoA-I(-/-) mice was compromised due to the loss of female LDLr(-/-)/apoA-I(-/-) mice between 10 and 14 weeks into the study. Diet-fed female and, with time, male LDLr(-/-)/apoA-I(-/-) mice suffered from severe ulcerated cutaneous xanthomatosis. This condition, combined with a complete depletion of adrenal cholesterol, manifested in fatal wasting of the affected mice. In conclusion, LDLr(-/-) and LDLr(-/-)/apoA-I(-/-) mice showed dramatic TPC differences in response to dietary fat and cholesterol challenge, while despite these differences both genotypes accumulated similar levels of aortic cholesterol.

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