Animal models have been widely used to investigate the relationship between diet and atherosclerosis and also to study disease etiology and possible interventions. Guinea pigs have been suggested to be a more "realistic" model for atherosclerosis due to their many similarities to humans. However, few published studies actually reported observations of characteristic atherosclerotic lesions and even fewer of advanced lesions. Studies, by our group, of guinea pigs fed on a high-fat diet revealed similar observations, with indications primarily of fatty streaks but little evidence of atherosclerotic plaques. This review discusses the feasibility of the guinea pig as a model for dietary-induced atherosclerosis. As it stands, current evidence raises doubt as to whether guinea pigs could serve as a realistic model for atherosclerosis. However, our own data and the literature suggest that they could be useful models for studying lipoprotein metabolism, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and dietary interventions which may help regulate these conditions.
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