Atherosclerosis represents a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in both the developed and developing countries. Animal models of atherosclerosis have served as valuable tools for providing insights on its aetiology, pathophysiology and complications. They can be used for invasive interrogation of physiological function and provide a platform for testing the efficacy and safety of different pharmacological therapies. Compared to studies using human subjects, animal models have the advantages of being easier to manage, with controllable diet and environmental risk factors. Moreover, pathophysiological changes can be induced either genetically or pharmacologically to study the harmful effects of these interventions. There is no single ideal animal model, as different systems are suitable for different research objectives. A good understanding of the similarities and differences to humans enables effective extrapolation of data for translational application. In this article, we will examine the different mouse models for the study and elucidation of the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying atherosclerosis. We also review recent advances in the field, such as the role of oxidative stress in promoting endoplasmic reticulum stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and mitochondrial DNA damage, which can result in vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis. Finally, novel therapeutic approaches to reduce vascular damage caused by chronic inflammation using microRNA and nano-medicine technology, are discussed.
Keywords: ApoE; Atherosclerosis; ER stress; LDL receptor; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Mouse models; Reactive oxygen species.