Oats (Avena sativa) reduce atherogenesis in LDL-receptor-deficient mice



      The cholesterol-lowering properties of oats, largely ascribed to its contents of soluble fibers, beta-glucans, are well established, whereas effects on atherogenesis are less well elucidated. Oats also contains components with reported antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may affect atherogenesis. In this work we examined effects of oat bran on plasma cholesterol, markers of inflammation, eNOS expression and development of atherosclerosis in LDL-receptor-deficient (LDLr−/−) mice.

      Methods and results

      Female LDLr−/− mice were fed Western diet ± oat bran. Two concentrations of oat bran (40 and 27%) were compared regarding effects on plasma lipids. There was a dose-dependent reduction of plasma cholesterol by 42 and 20% with 40 and 27% oat bran, respectively. Both concentrations also lowered plasma triglycerides (by 45 and 33%) and relative levels of plasma LDL + VLDL. The reduction of plasma lipids was accompanied by increased faecal excretion of cholesterol and bile acids. Oat bran (40%) efficiently reduced atherosclerotic lesion area in the descending aorta (−77%) and aortic root (−33%). Plasma levels of fibrinogen and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) were significantly lower, and immunofluorescence of aortic sections revealed a 75% lower expression of VCAM-1 in oat-fed mice. The expression of eNOS protein in the aortic wall was increased in mice fed oat bran.


      Oat bran supplemented to a Western diet lowers plasma cholesterol, reduces levels of some inflammatory markers, increases eNOS expression and inhibits atherosclerotic lesion development in LDLr−/− mice. It remains to be investigated which components in oats contribute to these effects.


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