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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35835. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035835. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

Hyperlipidemia and atherosclerotic lesion development in Ldlr-deficient mice on a long-term high-fat diet.

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State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.



Mice deficient in the LDL receptor (Ldlr(-/-) mice) have been widely used as a model to mimic human atherosclerosis. However, the time-course of atherosclerotic lesion development and distribution of lesions at specific time-points are yet to be established. The current study sought to determine the progression and distribution of lesions in Ldlr(-/-) mice.


Ldlr-deficient mice fed regular chow or a high-fat (HF) diet for 0.5 to 12 months were analyzed for atherosclerotic lesions with en face and cross-sectional imaging. Mice displayed significant individual differences in lesion development when fed a chow diet, whereas those on a HF diet developed lesions in a time-dependent and site-selective manner. Specifically, mice subjected to the HF diet showed slight atherosclerotic lesions distributed exclusively in the aortic roots or innominate artery before 3 months. Lesions extended to the thoracic aorta at 6 months and abdominal aorta at 9 months. Cross-sectional analysis revealed the presence of advanced lesions in the aortic sinus after 3 months in the group on the HF diet and in the innominate artery at 6 to 9 months. The HF diet additionally resulted in increased total cholesterol, LDL, glucose, and HBA1c levels, along with the complication of obesity.


Ldlr-deficient mice on the HF diet tend to develop site-selective and size-specific atherosclerotic lesions over time. The current study should provide information on diet induction or drug intervention times and facilitate estimation of the appropriate locations of atherosclerotic lesions in Ldlr(-/-) mice.

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