Protective effect of oleuropein, an olive oil biophenol, on low density lipoprotein oxidizability in rabbits

Lipids. 2000 Jan;35(1):45-54. doi: 10.1007/s11745-000-0493-2.


On the basis of the results obtained with pilot studies conducted in vitro on human low density lipoprotein (LDL) and on cell cultures (Caco-2), which had indicated the ability of certain molecules present in olive oil to inhibit prooxidative processes, an in vivo study was made of laboratory rabbits fed special diets. Three different diets were prepared: a standard diet for rabbits (diet A), a standard diet for rabbits modified by the addition of 10% (w/w) extra virgin olive oil (diet B), a modified standard diet for rabbits (diet C) differing from diet B only in the addition of 7 mg kg(-1) of oleuropein. A series of biochemical parameters was therefore identified, both in the rabbit plasma and the related isolated LDL, before and after Cu-induced oxidation. The following, in particular, were selected: (i) biophenols, vitamins E and C, uric acid, and total, free, and ester cholesterol in the plasma; (ii) proteins, triglycerides, phospholipids, and total, free, and ester cholesterol in the native LDL (for the latter, the dimensions were also measured); (iii) lipid hydroperoxides, aldehydes, conjugated dienes, and relative electrophoretic mobility (REM) in the oxidized LDL (ox-LDL). In an attempt to summarize the results obtained, it can be said that this investigation has not only verified the antioxidant efficacy of extra virgin olive oil biophenols and, in particular, of oleuropein, but has also revealed a series of thus far unknown effects of the latter on the plasmatic lipid situation. In fact, the addition of oleuropein in diet C increased the ability of LDL to resist oxidation (less conjugated diene formation) and, at the same time, reduced the plasmatic levels of total, free, and ester cholesterol (-15, -12, and -17%, respectively), giving rise to a redistribution of the lipidic components of LDL (greater phospholipid and cholesterol amounts) with an indirect effect on their dimensions (bigger by about 12%).

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Copper / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Iridoid Glucosides
  • Iridoids
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood*
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Pyrans / pharmacology*
  • Rabbits
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Uric Acid / blood
  • Vitamin E / blood


  • Dietary Fats
  • Iridoid Glucosides
  • Iridoids
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils
  • Pyrans
  • Triglycerides
  • oxidized low density lipoprotein
  • Vitamin E
  • Uric Acid
  • oleuropein
  • Copper
  • Cholesterol
  • Ascorbic Acid