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Acta Physiol Hung. 2011 Sep;98(3):273-83. doi: 10.1556/APhysiol.98.2011.3.4.

The effect of dietary hempseed on atherogenesis and contractile function in aortae from hypercholesterolemic rabbits.

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University of Manitoba, Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine, St Boniface Hospital Research Centre, and Department of Physiology, Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


Hempseed contains a unique combination of both omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. In other studies, supplementation of the diet with selected polyunsaturated fatty acids has induced significant, beneficial cardiovascular effects. The purpose of the present study is to determine if hempseed ingestion over an 8-week period may provide protection to rabbits against the deleterious effects associated with dietary cholesterol supplementation.


Male albino New Zealand White rabbits were randomly divided into one of six groups: the control diet (RG), the control diet then supplemented with (wt/wt) 5% coconut oil (CO), or 10% hempseed (HP), or 0.5% cholesterol (OL), or with both 10% hempseed and 0.5% cholesterol (OLHP) or with 10% hempseed that was partially delipidated (SC). Each day the rabbits were fed 125 grams of the appropriate diet over an 8-week period. Fatty acid analysis of tissue and diets was determined using gas chromatography. Vascular function testing of aortic rings was done in order to assess the response of the tissue to both contraction and relaxation stimuli. Aortic atherosclerotic plaque was quantified.


Cholesterol supplementation to the diet induced significant aortic plaque development. Dietary hempseed did not generate protection. The aorta obtained from rabbits fed the cholesterol-supplemented chow also exhibited defects in their contractile responses to KCl and norepinephrine and in relaxation to sodium nitroprusside (SNP).The addition of hempseed to this diet did not generate any improvement in contractile responses but had a modest protective effect on the cholesterol-induced defects in SNP-induced relaxation.


Our data demonstrate that dietary hempseed provides mildly beneficial effects against contractile dysfunction associated with atherosclerotic vessels in the cholesterol-fed rabbit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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