Long-term Western diet fed apolipoprotein E-deficient rats exhibit only modest early atherosclerotic characteristics

Ida Rune, Bidda Rolin, Jens Lykkesfeldt, Dennis Sandris Nielsen, Łukasz Krych, Jenny E Kanter, Karin E Bornfeldt, Pernille Kihl, Karsten Buschard, Knud Josefsen, Johannes Josef Fels, Alan Mortensen, Berit Christoffersen, Rikke Kaae Kirk, Axel Kornerup Hansen


In the apolipoprotein E-deficient mouse, the gut microbiota has an impact on the development of atherosclerosis, but whether such correlations are also present in rats requires investigation. Therefore, we studied female SD-Apoe tm1sage (Apoe-/-) rats fed either a Western diet or a low-fat control diet with or without gluten, which is known to promote gut microbiota changes, until 20 weeks of age. We hypothesized that the manifestation of atherosclerosis would be more severe in Apoe-/- rats fed the Western high-fat diet, as compared with rats fed the low-fat diet, and that atherosclerosis would be accelerated by gluten. Both Western diet-feeding and gluten resulted in significant changes in gut microbiota, but the microbiota impact of gluten was transient. Compared with Apoe-/- rats fed a low-fat diet, Western diet-fed Apoe-/- rats were heavier and became glucose intolerant with increased levels of oxidative stress. They developed early fatty streak lesions in their aortic sinus, while there was no evidence of atherosclerosis in the thoracic aorta. No conclusions could be made on the impact of gluten on atherosclerosis. Although Western diet-fed Apoe-/- rats exhibited a more human-like LDL dominated blood lipid profile, signs of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease were modest.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)5416
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018


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