Addition of fish oil to atherogenic high fat diet inhibited atherogenesis while olive oil did not, in LDL receptor KO mice

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2020 Apr 12;30(4):709-716. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2019.12.007. Epub 2019 Dec 14.


Background and aims: Mediterranean diet has been associated with decreased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Both fish and olive oil are key components of this diet. Therefore, we compared their effects on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and atherogenesis in a mouse model, fed a high fat diet.

Methods and results: Forty nine, female LDL receptor knockout (LDLR KO) mice were allocated into 3 groups and fed an atherogenic high fat (HF) diet for 9 weeks. The HF group was fed a high fat diet alone. A HF + OO group was fed a HF diet with added olive oil (60 ml/kg feed), and the third group (HF + FO) was fed a HF diet with added fish oil (60 ml/kg feed). Both additions of fish and olive oil, significantly decreased plasma cholesterol elevation compared to HF diet. Nevertheless, only fish oil addition reduced significantly atherosclerotic lesion area by 51% compared to HF group. Liver levels of eicosapentenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids were several folds higher in HF + FO group than in HF and HF + OO groups. Liver levels of oleic acid were higher in HF + OO compared to the other groups. Moreover, Fish oil addition significantly decreased NAFLD scores related to steatosis and inflammation and lowered the expression of the inflammatory genes interleukin 6 (IL6) and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP1).

Conclusion: These results suggest that fish oil addition on top of an atherogenic, HF diet, is beneficial, while olive oil is not, in its effect on plaque formation and NAFLD in LDLR KO mice.

Keywords: Atherosclerotic lesion; Fish oil; High fat diet; LDL receptor knockout mice; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Olive oil.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chemokine CCL2 / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / metabolism
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / metabolism
  • Female
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / blood
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / genetics
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / prevention & control
  • Oleic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Oleic Acid / metabolism
  • Olive Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic
  • Receptors, LDL / deficiency
  • Receptors, LDL / genetics
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Ccl2 protein, mouse
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Interleukin-6
  • Olive Oil
  • Receptors, LDL
  • interleukin-6, mouse
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Oleic Acid
  • Cholesterol
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid