Objectives: To examine the effects of pomegranate extract on inflammation and oxidative stress and the development of spontaneous occlusive coronary artery atherosclerosis in the SR-BI/apoE double knockout mouse model of coronary heart disease.
Methods and results: SR-BI/apoE double KO mice were treated for two weeks with pomegranate extract via drinking water, beginning at three weeks of age. Treatment with pomegranate extract increased cholesterol ester content and reduced the abnormally high unesterified/esterified cholesterol ratio of VLDL-sized lipoproteins. Despite the increase in cholesterol levels associated with VLDL-sized particles, pomegranate extract treatment reduced the size of atherosclerotic plaques in the aortic sinus and reduced the proportion of coronary arteries with occlusive atherosclerotic plaques. Treatment with pomegranate extract resulted in substantial reductions in levels of oxidative stress and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 in atherosclerotic plaques in the aortic sinus and coronary arteries. In addition, treatment with pomegranate extract reduced lipid accumulation, macrophage infiltration, levels of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and fibrosis in the myocardium, attenuated cardiac enlargement and the development of ECG abnormalities in SR-BI/apoE double KO mice.
Conclusion: Pomegranate extract reduced aortic sinus and coronary artery atherosclerosis in SR-BI/apoE dKO mice. The atheroprotective effects of pomegranate extract appear to involve reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in the vessel wall despite unaltered systemic markers of inflammation and increased lipoprotein cholesterol in these mice.
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