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J Atheroscler Thromb. 2010 Sep 30;17(9):980-8. Epub 2010 Jun 11.

Kefiran reduces atherosclerosis in rabbits fed a high cholesterol diet.

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Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.



Kefiran is an exopolysaccharide produced by Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, and has been proposed to have many health-promoting properties. We investigated the antiatherogenic effect of kefiran on rabbits fed a high-cholesterol diet.


Male New Zealand White rabbits were fed a 0.5% cholesterol diet without (control group, n = 7) or with kefiran (kefiran group, n = 8) for eight weeks. The aorta was analyzed by histochemistry and atherosclerotic lesions were quantified. Lipids and sugars in serum were measured. Foam cell formation of RAW264.7 by βVLDL derived from both groups of rabbits was also investigated.


Cholesterol, triglyceride and phospholipids levels of serum and lipoprotein fractions were not significantly different between these groups. Atherosclerotic lesions of the aorta in the kefiran group were statistically lower than those of the control group, with marked differences in the abdominal aorta. T-lymphocytes were not detectable in the aorta of the kefiran group. Cholesterol contents in stools were almost identical in both groups. Cholesterol content in the liver of the kefiran group was statistically lower than in the control group. Galactose content of βVLDL derived from the kefiran group was higher, and the lipid peroxidation level was much lower than in the control group. RAW264.7 macrophages treated with βVLDL from the kefiran group showed a more spherical shape and accumulated statistically lower cholesterol than macrophages treated with βVLDL from the control group.


Orally derived kefiran is absorbed in the blood. Kefiran prevents the onset and development of atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic rabbits by anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant actions.

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