Background: Policosanol is a cholesterol-lowering drug isolated from sugar cane wax with concomitant antiplatelet effects. Previous studies have shown that policosanol prevents lipofundin-induced atherosclerotic lesions in rabbits and rats, including foam cell formation, as well as the development of foam cells in carrageenan-induced granulomas in rats. Policosanol also inhibits smooth muscle cells proliferation induced on rabbit cuffed artery and on forceps-induced arterial wall damage. Furthermore, policosanol administered long term lowered serum cholesterol and prevented the development of atherosclerotic lesions in Macaca arctoides monkeys. The present study was undertaken to determine whether policosanol could change some characteristic features of atherosclerotic lesions, such as macrophage number and immunohistochemical localization of apoA-1 and apoB in aortas of M. arctoides monkeys.
Methods: Fourteen adult male monkeys weighing 6-10 kg and receiving a low fat, protein-rich diet were randomly distributed in three groups: control group (six monkeys) and two other groups (four monkeys/group) treated with policosanol (2.5 and 25 mg/kg) for 54 weeks. Samples of arteries were examined by light microscopy. Monoclonal antibodies were used to evaluate the presence of macrophage, apoA-1 and apoB.
Results: Policosanol reduced the presence of macrophages and the occurrence of apoB, whereas increased apoA-1 localization in aortic atherosclerotic lesions compared with control monkeys.
Conclusions: These results suggest the policosanol potential benefit on plaque composition and stability and could explain the protective effects of policosanol on atherosclerosis development.