Author(s): Brousseau ME, Hoeg JM
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Abstract Several characteristics of the rabbit make it an excellent model for the study of lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis. New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits have low plasma total cholesterol concentrations, high cholesteryl ester transfer protein activity, low hepatic lipase (HL) activity, and lack an analogue of human apolipoprotein (apo) A-II, providing a unique system in which to assess the effects of human transgenes on plasma lipoproteins and atherosclerosis susceptibility. Additionally, rabbit models of human lipoprotein disorders, such as the Watanabe Heritable Hyperlipidemic (WHHL) and St. Thomas' Hospital strains, models of familial hypercholesterolemia and familial combined hyperlipidemia, respectively, allow for the assessment of candidate genes for potential use in the treatment of dyslipoproteinemic patients. To date, transgenes for human apo(a), apoA-I, apoB, apoE2, apoE3, HL, and lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT), as well as for rabbit apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme catalytic poly-peptide 1 (APOBEC-1), have been expressed in NZW rabbits, whereas only those for human apoA-I and LCAT have been introduced into the WHHL background. All of these transgenes have been shown to have significant effects on plasma lipoprotein concentrations. In both NZW and WHHL rabbits, human apoA-I expression was associated with a significant reduction in the extent of aortic atherosclerosis, which was similarly the case for LCAT in rabbits having at least one functional LDL receptor allele. Conversely, expression of apoE2 in NZW rabbits caused increased susceptibility to atherosclerosis. These studies provide new insights into the mechanisms responsible for the development of atherosclerosis, emphasizing the strength of the rabbit model in cardiovascular disease research.
This article was published in J Lipid Res
and referenced in Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine