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Cholesterol. 2012;2012:564705. doi: 10.1155/2012/564705. Epub 2012 May 30.

Ezetimibe and simvastatin reduce cholesterol levels in zebrafish larvae fed a high-cholesterol diet.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Cholesterol-fed zebrafish is an emerging animal model to study metabolic, oxidative, and inflammatory vascular processes relevant to pathogenesis of human atherosclerosis. Zebrafish fed a high-cholesterol diet (HCD) develop hypercholesterolemia and are characterized by profound lipoprotein oxidation and vascular lipid accumulation. Using optically translucent zebrafish larvae has the advantage of monitoring vascular pathology and assessing the efficacy of drug candidates in live animals. Thus, we investigated whether simvastatin and ezetimibe, the principal drugs used in management of hypercholesterolemia in humans, would also reduce cholesterol levels in HCD-fed zebrafish larvae. We found that ezetimibe was well tolerated by zebrafish and effectively reduced cholesterol levels in HCD-fed larvae. In contrast, simvastatin added to water was poorly tolerated by zebrafish larvae and, when added to food, had little effect on cholesterol levels in HCD-fed larvae. Combination of low doses of ezetimibe and simvastatin had an additive effect in reducing cholesterol levels in zebrafish. These results suggest that ezetimibe exerts in zebrafish a therapeutic effect similar to that in humans and that the hypercholesterolemic zebrafish can be used as a low-cost and informative model for testing new drug candidates and for investigating mechanisms of action for existing drugs targeting dyslipidemia.

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