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Hypercholesterolemia in pregnant mice does not affect atherosclerosis in adult offspring

      Abstract

      In humans, maternal hypercholesterolemia during pregnancy promotes microscopical fatty streaks in the children. The mechanism is unknown. Fatty streaks are clinically silent, and many of them regress and never develop into advanced atherosclerosis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether hypercholesterolemia in pregnant mice induced more advanced atherosclerosis in their adult progeny. Hypercholesterolemic (HC) apolipoprotein E knockout (apoE−/−) female mice were mated with normocholesterolemic (NC) wild-type (apoE+/+) males and vice versa. All parents were almost identical genetically except for apoE. Therefore, all progeny became genetically identical and heterozygous apoE+/−. They were born of either HC (i.e. apoE−/−) or NC (i.e. apoE+/+) mothers. The progeny were killed 6 months after birth and the amount of atherosclerosis in the aortic root was assessed. Females developed more atherosclerosis than males (P<0.001) but, regardless of sex, maternal hypercholesterolemia during pregnancy had no influence on the amount of atherosclerosis in adult progeny. Males of HC mothers had lower plasma cholesterol levels than males of NC mothers. Thus, in mice, maternal hypercholesterolemia during pregnancy does not promote the development of advanced atherosclerosis in their adult progeny.

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