The effect of oxygen on the development of atherosclerosis in WHHL rabbits

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      The effect of hyperoxic or hypoxic inhalation on blood lipid levels and on the development of atherosclerosis was studied in young male WHHL rabbits. They were exposed to ordinary room air containing different concentrations of oxygen: 6 animals were exposed to 40% oxygen (hyperoxia group) or 5–10% oxygen (hypoxia group) for 5 h a day, 5 days a week for 8 weeks. Four control rabbits inhaled ordinary room air. The following results were obtained.
      • 1.
        (1) The severity of aortic lesions significantly decreased in the hyperoxia group and increased in the hypoxia group, when these two groups were compared. However, both hypoxic and hyperoxic groups did not statistically differ from the control.
      • 2.
        (2) Plasma cholesterol levels were not changed either by hyperoxic or hypoxic inhalation.
      • 3.
        (3) Plasma triglyceride levels were elevated only in the hypoxia group, with significant differences from the values in both control and hyperoxia groups.
      • 4.
        (4) There was no significant correlation between mean plasma lipid level and severity of aortic lesions.
      From these results, we conclude that hyperoxic or hypoxic inhalation respectively regresses or aggravates the development of atherosclerotic lesions, not by an indirect action on blood lipid concentrations but by a direct action on the vascular wall.


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