Diet-induced early-stage atherosclerosis in baboons: Lipoproteins, atherogenesis, and arterial compliance

J Med Primatol. 2018 Feb;47(1):3-17. doi: 10.1111/jmp.12283. Epub 2017 Jun 16.


Background: The purpose of this study was to determine whether dietary manipulation can reliably induce early-stage atherosclerosis and clinically relevant changes in vascular function in an established, well-characterized non-human primate model.

Methods: We fed 112 baboons a high-cholesterol, high-fat challenge diet for two years. We assayed circulating biomarkers of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, at 0, 7, and 104 weeks into the challenge; assessed arterial compliance noninvasively at 104 weeks; and measured atherosclerotic lesions in three major arteries at necropsy.

Results: We observed evidence of atherosclerosis in all but one baboon fed the two-year challenge diet. CVD risk biomarkers, the prevalence, size, and complexity of arterial lesions, plus consequent arterial stiffness, were increased in comparison with dietary control animals.

Conclusions: Feeding baboons a high-cholesterol, high-fat diet for two years reliably induces atherosclerosis, with risk factor profiles, arterial lesions, and changes in vascular function also seen in humans.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; high-fat diet; non-human primate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / physiology
  • Arteries / physiopathology
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Diet, Atherogenic / adverse effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Papio anubis*
  • Papio cynocephalus*


  • Lipoproteins