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Atherosclerosis. 1997 Nov;135(1):37-47.

Effects of green tea, black tea and dietary lipophilic antioxidants on LDL oxidizability and atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolaemic rabbits.

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  • 1Unilever Research Laboratorium, Vlaardingen, The Netherlands.


The hypothesis that tea or dietary lipid-soluble antioxidants reduce atherogenesis by lowering the oxidizability of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) was investigated. Five groups of 20 female New Zealand white rabbits were fed a restricted amount of a high-fat (30 en%) semipurified diet supplemented with cholesterol (0.15%, w/w) for 21 weeks. The vitamin E content of the control diet was 40 mg/kg diet. The animals received either green tea or black tea in their drinking water or vitamin E (200 mg/kg diet) or beta-carotene (20 mg/kg). The serum cholesterol concentrations (in the order of 18-23 mmol/l) were not significantly different between the groups. Vitamin E was substantially increased as compared to controls in vitamin E supplemented animals (3-fold within 8 weeks in plasma and LDL; P < 0.01) and weakly (1.2-fold) by green and black tea (P < 0.05). Green tea consumption tended to reduce aortic lesion formation by 31% (24 +/- 3.2% versus 35 +/- 5.7% for control animals P = 0.11), while black tea, vitamin E and beta-carotene had no effect. This was in contrast to the resistance of isolated LDL to oxidation induced at high copper concentration. Green and black tea induced a 13% and 15% (P < 0.05) prolongation of the lag phase, respectively, with a correspondingly lower oxidation rate, while vitamin E increased the lag phase by 63% (P < 0.01) with a concomitant diminution of the oxidation rate and beta-carotene had no effect. Regression analysis showed that there was no relationship between the extent of atherosclerosis and LDL oxidizability or plasma malondialdehyde as marker of in vivo lipid peroxidation. The results of the present study raise the question whether LDL oxidizability (at least when tested at high induction rate ex vivo) is a primary causal mechanism in atherosclerosis in the cholesterol-fed rabbit. The suitability of the cholesterol-fed rabbit with extreme hypercholesterolaemia as a model to study antiatherosclerotic properties of dietary antioxidants, such as the tested polyphenols, is discussed.

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