Long-term induction and regression of diet-induced atherosclerotic lesions in rhesus monkeys. II. Morphometric evaluation of lesions by light microscopy in coronary and carotid arteries.
Atherosclerotic lesions were induced in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) by feeding them a high-saturated fatty acid and high-cholesterol diet. After 5.4 years the extent of lesions in three major coronary arteries and the right carotid artery was evaluated morphometrically by light microscopy in one group of animals (group P). The remaining animals were switched to a low-cholesterol diet that remained high in saturated fatty acids and provided the same percentage of total calories as did the atherogenic diet. Lesion regression was then evaluated in one group of monkeys 1.9 years (group R4) and in another group of monkeys 3.7 years (group R5) after withdrawal of cholesterol alone from the diet. In group P, the mean intimal thickness varied between 26 and 47 microns, maximum intimal thickness between 70 and 92 microns, and luminal reduction between 9% and 12% in the three major coronary arteries. Luminal reduction varied between 1% and 11% in right carotid artery segments. After 1.9 years of consuming the basal diet, group R4 animals were no different from group P animals with respect to morphometric measures. Total intimal and medial areas of the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery in groups P and R4 were also similar. In contrast, after 3.7 years of consuming the basal diet, group R5 animals showed consistently although not statistically significantly lower values than those in group P for the morphometric measures in coronary arteries and total intimal area in the LAD. Similar results were obtained for the common carotid and external carotid arteries. Thus, our study shows that long-term diet-induced lesions in coronary arteries and in common and external segments of the right carotid artery regressed only when the animals were fed the basal diet for 3.7 years. We conclude that atherosclerotic lesions induced in coronary and carotid arteries can regress toward normal to a certain extent, but they require a longer time for regression than do other arterial segments. These findings support the results of clinical trials in human subjects.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association