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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012 May;32(5):1104-15. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.237693. Epub 2012 Mar 1.

Animal models of atherosclerosis.

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Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that is the underlying cause of most cardiovascular disease. Both cells of the vessel wall and cells of the immune system participate in atherogenesis. This process is heavily influenced by plasma lipoproteins, genetics, and the hemodynamics of the blood flow in the artery. A variety of small and large animal models have been used to study the atherogenic process. No model is ideal as each has its own advantages and limitations with respect to manipulation of the atherogenic process and modeling human atherosclerosis or lipoprotein profile. Useful large animal models include pigs, rabbits, and nonhuman primates. Due in large part to the relative ease of genetic manipulation and the relatively short time frame for the development of atherosclerosis, murine models are currently the most extensively used. Although not all aspects of murine atherosclerosis are identical to humans, studies using murine models have suggested potential biological processes and interactions that underlie this process. As it becomes clear that different factors may influence different stages of lesion development, the use of mouse models with the ability to turn on or delete proteins or cells in tissue specific and temporal manner will be very valuable.

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