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J Vet Med Sci. 2005 Mar;67(3):235-42.

Mild hepatic fibrosis in cholesterol and sodium cholate diet-fed rats.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu 702-701, South Korea.


To date, the majority of research on hypercholesterolemia has focused on the effects of a high cholesterol diet on atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. The toxic effects of cholesterol on the liver and the relationship between the intake of a high cholesterol diet and hepatic fibrosis, however, have not been investigated clearly or histopathologically. Male Wistar rats were fed a diet supplemented with 1.0% cholesterol and 0.3% sodium cholate for 12 weeks. Rats were sacrificed and analyzed via blood biochemistry, traditional microscopy and immunohistochemistry. Following the feeding of this diet, the rates of aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase and total cholesterol in the rats were elevated consistently from week 3 and throughout the remainder of the experiment. From microscopic observation, hepatic necrosis, macrophage infiltration and steatosis increased markedly throughout the experiment. Hepatic fibrosis and myofibroblast proliferation were detected at weeks 9 and 12. Mast cell appearance was proportional to the degree of hepatic damage. These findings suggest that hepatic fibrosis is inducible by a high cholesterol diet and is likely the result of the interaction between several different cell types (i.e., macrophages, myofibroblasts, and mast cells) in an inflammatory milieu. Hypercholesterolemia should be considered as a risk factor for hepatic fibrosis as well as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.

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