Dietary polyunsaturated fat decreases coronary artery atherosclerosis in a pediatric-aged population of African green monkeys.
The hypothesis tested was that juvenile African green monkeys consuming diets enriched with n-6 polyunsaturated fat from birth until young adulthood would have significantly less coronary artery atherosclerosis than comparable animals consuming diets enriched with saturated fat. African green monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops, n = 108) of both sexes were fed atherogenic diets (0.8 mg cholesterol/kcal) throughout their lives so that death at 16, 32, or 60 months of age permitted quantification of atherosclerosis. In the coronary arteries, the average intimal area increased significantly with age (P = .02), showing increases of 28-fold and sevenfold between 32 and 60 months in the saturated fat- and polyunsaturated fat-fed groups, respectively. Young adult male animals at 60 months of age were found to have significantly (P = .03) more coronary artery atherosclerosis than female animals. Animals fed polyunsaturated fat had significantly (P < or = .01) less coronary artery atherosclerosis. By 60 months of age in the animals consuming polyunsaturated fat, the average coronary artery intimal area was one fourth and the average size of the largest coronary intimal lesion was one fifth that in monkeys fed saturated fat. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and LDL particle size were each found to be positively correlated with coronary artery atherosclerosis end points in both diet groups. In addition to the coronary arteries, atherosclerosis in the abdominal and thoracic aorta and carotid arteries was also evaluated; the coronary arteries were the only arterial system with significantly less atherosclerosis in the polyunsaturated fat group as measured by intimal area. However, evaluation of histological sections of abdominal aorta showed relatively more sterol clefts in the saturated fat-fed group, and more free cholesterol was measured, suggesting that lesions were more complicated in this group. These results show that dietary intervention early in life with n-6 polyunsaturated fat can be effective in decreasing the development of atherosclerosis, particularly in the coronary arteries of primates. This outcome supports the concept that dietary intervention beginning early in childhood can have beneficial effects on the coronary heart disease of later life.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association