The distribution of fibro-fatty atherosclerotic lesions in the aortae of casein- and cholesterol-fed rabbits

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      Atherosclerotic lesions were induced in the aortas of 50 rabbits by feeding a semi-purified cholesterol-free casein diet or normal rabbit chow with a low level of added cholesterol for 6 or 10 months. Following perfusion fixation, the aortae from these animals were opened along their length, stained with oil red O and photographed en face. Orifice associated lesions were mapped by measuring radial lesion length at 10° intervals circumferentially around ostia. Histology of these lesions revealed abundant smooth muscle cells surrounded by collagen and elastin in the extracellular matrix, typical of fibrous plaques, as well as oil red O staining lipid and some macrophage derived foam cells. These fibro-fatty lesions were found distal and lateral to ostia, at the same locations as fatty streaks seen in rabbits fed a 2% cholesterol diet for 1 week to 2 months in previous studies. The results of this study show that in moderately hypercholesterolemic rabbits fed an atherogenic diet for 6 to 10 months, advanced atherosclerotic plaques develop in the same location as the fatty streaks seen in short term experiments.


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