Background: Atherosclerosis causes over 40% of all deaths in the USA and Western Europe. Although several hypotheses have been proposed, the etiology and pathogenesis of the atherosclerosis remain unknown.
Objective: To develop a model of selective coronary atherosclerosis in pigs.
Design: An animal model of selective coronary atherosclerosis was developed by combining a guide-wire-induced endothelial injury and cholesterol-enriched diet.
Methods: Twelve pigs were subjected to guide-wire-induced injury to endothelium of left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery. Six animals (control group) were fed a standard pig food; the remaining six animals (cholesterol group) were fed a 6%-cholesterol-enriched diet. Three animals from the control group were killed immediately after the endothelial injury (acute control group). The other three animals in the control group (chronic control group) and all animals in the cholesterol-fed group were killed 4 weeks after the injury.
Results: The endothelial surface and the media of the left circumflex coronary artery LCX in all animals were intact. Long eccentric areas of endothelial injury were found in the LAD coronary arteries of animals in the acute control group. Numerous fibrous atherosclerotic plaques in LAD coronary arteries were found in animals in the chronic control group as well as in animals in the cholesterol-fed group, but were highly pronounced in animals in the last group. No accumulation of lipids was found in the plaques of animals in both groups.
Conclusions: Administration of a 6%-cholesterol diet for 6 weeks is not sufficient to cause coronary atherosclerosis in pigs. Selective coronary atherosclerosis can be induced within 4 weeks with the same diet when the blood vessel has been injured with a guide wire.