Arterial endothelial function in a porcine model of early stage atherosclerotic vascular disease

Int J Exp Pathol. 2005 Oct;86(5):335-45. doi: 10.1111/j.0959-9673.2005.00446.x.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and is projected to become the leading cause of mortality in the world. Atherosclerosis is the most important single factor contributing to this disease burden. In this study, we characterize relationships between endothelial dysfunction and vascular disease in an animal model of diet-induced, early-stage atherosclerotic vascular disease. We tested the hypothesis that hypercholesterolaemia induces vascular disease and impairs endothelium-dependent relaxation (EDR) in conduit arteries of adult male Yucatan pigs. Pigs were fed a normal fat (NF) or high fat cholesterol (HFC) diet for 20-24 weeks. Results indicate that, while the HFC diet did not alter EDR in femoral or brachial arteries, EDR was significantly decreased in both carotid and coronary arteries. Sudanophilic fatty streaks were significantly present in the abdominal aorta and common carotid artery. Histopathology revealed increased intima-media thickness (IMT) and foam cell accumulation in Stary Stage I-III lesions in the abdominal aorta, common carotid artery and femoral arteries. In the coronary arteries, the accumulation of foam cells in Stary Stage I and II lesions resulted in a trend for increased IMT. There was no evidence of vascular disease in the brachial arteries. These results indicate that early stages of CVD (Stary Stage I-III) precede decreases in EDR induced by HFC diet, because femoral arteries exhibited foam cell accumulation and an increased IMT but no change in endothelial function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Aorta, Abdominal
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Bradykinin / pharmacology
  • Carotid Artery, Common
  • Cholesterol, Dietary
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fats
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Femoral Artery
  • Foam Cells / pathology
  • Hypercholesterolemia / pathology
  • Hypercholesterolemia / physiopathology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Indomethacin / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester / pharmacology
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Swine
  • Tunica Intima
  • Vasodilation*


  • Cholesterol, Dietary
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Dietary Fats
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Acetylcholine
  • Bradykinin
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester
  • Indomethacin