Identification of novel serum markers for the progression of coronary atherosclerosis in WHHLMI rabbits, an animal model of familial hypercholesterolemia


      • Potential differences between serum markers of coronary lesions and aortic lesions.
      • Stronger association with coronary lesion of factors other than conventional markers.
      • Difference in the serum markers between generation of coronary lesions and advanced coronary lesions.


      Background and aims

      The development of serum markers specific for coronary lesions is important to prevent coronary events. However, analyses of serum markers in humans are affected by environmental factors and non-target diseases. Using an appropriate model animal can reduce these effects. To identify specific markers for coronary atherosclerosis, we comprehensively analyzed the serum of WHHLMI rabbits, which spontaneously develop coronary atherosclerosis.


      Female WHHLMI rabbits were fed standard chow. Serum and plasma were collected under fasting at intervals of 4 months from 4 months old, and a total of 313 lipid molecules, 59 metabolites, lipoprotein lipid levels, and various plasma biochemical parameters were analyzed. The severity of coronary lesions was evaluated with cross-sectional narrowing (CSN) corrected with a frequency of 75%–89% CSN and CSN> 90%.


      There was a large variation in the severity of coronary lesions in WHHLMI rabbits despite almost no differences in plasma biochemical parameters and aortic lesion area between rabbits with severe and mild coronary lesions. The metabolites and lipid molecules selected as serum markers for coronary atherosclerosis were lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) 22:4 and diacylglycerol 18:0–18:0 at 4 months old, LPC 20:4 (sn-2), ceramide d18:1–18:2, citric acid plus isocitric acid, and pyroglutamic acid at 8 months old, and phosphatidylethanolamine plasminogen 16:1p-22:2 at 16 months old.


      These serum markers were coronary lesion-specific markers independent of cholesterol levels and aortic lesions and may be useful to detect patients who develop cardiovascular disease.


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