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Lipids. 2014 Jul;49(7):685-93. doi: 10.1007/s11745-014-3915-6. Epub 2014 Jun 1.

Hypercholesterolemia increases plasma saturated and n-6 fatty acids altering prostaglandin homeostasis and promotes endothelial dysfunction in rabbits.

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  • 1Instituto Superior de Investigaciones Biológicas (INSIBIO), CONICET-UNT, Facultad de Medicina, Av Independencia 1800, 4000, San Miguel de Tuccumán, Tucumán, Argentina.


The present study evaluated the plasma fatty acid levels and the vascular prostaglandin (PG) release in a rabbit model of early hypercholesterolemia with endothelial dysfunction. Rabbits were fed either a control diet (CD) or a diet containing 1 % cholesterol (HD) for 5-6 weeks. The level of fatty acids was measured in plasma. The levels of PG and nitric oxide (NO) released from the aorta were also determined. Vascular morphology of the aorta was characterized by intima and media thickness measurements. The rabbits fed with HD had higher levels of arachidonic acid (ARA) and lower levels of oleic acid. The linoleic acid level was unchanged. PGI(2) and NO were diminished and PGF(2α) levels, the PGI(2)/TXA(2) ratio and the intima/media ratio were increased in rabbits fed with HD. In conclusion, feeding HD for a short period increased ARA plasma levels and unbalanced release of vasodilator/vasoconstrictor PG redirected the pathway to vasoconstrictor metabolite release. These lipid metabolism alterations in addition to the reduced NO levels and the moderate changes in the vascular morphology contributed to the endothelial dysfunction in this animal model. Therefore, the present findings support the importance of early correction or prevention of high cholesterol levels to disrupt the endothelial dysfunction process that leads to cardiovascular disease.

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