Research Article| Volume 219, ISSUE 2, P448-454, December 2011

Differential effects of daily-moderate versus weekend-binge alcohol consumption on atherosclerotic plaque development in mice



      We examined the effect of daily-moderate (2 drinks/day, 7 days/week) and weekend-binge (7 drinks/day, 2 days/week) patterns of alcohol consumption on plasma lipid levels and physiological parameters of atherosclerotic plaque development.


      ApoE k/o mouse were fed (1) ‘daily-moderate’ (blood alcohol content: 0.07%) or (2) ‘weekend-binge’ (blood alcohol content: 0.23%), or (3) an isocaloric cornstarch mix. Then, to induce atherosclerotic plaque formation, all groups underwent partial carotid artery ligation, started on an atherogenic diet and continued on the alcohol feeding regimen. After 2 weeks plasma lipid levels and atherosclerotic plaque formation were assessed.


      While there was an increase in HDL-C levels in both binge and moderate groups, LDL-C levels were significantly decreased in the daily-moderate drinking mice and significantly elevated in the weekend-binge drinking mice. In the daily-moderate alcohol group there was a decrease in atherosclerotic plaque volume, concomitant with an increase in lumen volume and decreased macrophage accumulation, when compared to no alcohol mice. In contrast, after 4 weeks of weekend-binge alcohol there was an increase in plaque volume, concomitant with a decrease in lumen volume and increased deposition of macrophages.


      These findings demonstrate for the first time a differential effect of daily-moderate vs. weekend-binge alcohol consumption on atherosclerotic plaque development and highlight the importance of patterns of alcohol consumption, as opposed to total amount consumed, in relation to the cardiovascular effects of alcohol.


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