Diet-induced atherosclerosis in the domestic cat

David G. Ginzinger, Janet E. Wilson, Darlene Redenbach, M. E Suzanne Lewis, Susanne M. Clee, Katherine J D Ashbourne Excoffon, Quinton Rogers, Michael R. Hayden, Bruce M. McManus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The domestic cat has not been used in studies of atherosclerosis, with the exception of a single study published in 1970. We have further evaluated the susceptibility of the domestic sat to diet-induced atherosclerosis, the ultimate intent being to discern the atherogenic risk due to lipoprotein lipase deficiency in an affected feline kindred with a phenotype very similar to that of the human form of this condition. We subjected a group of normal domestic cats to a moderately high-fat, cholesterol-enriched diet (30% fat and 3% cholesterol) for a period of 2 to 8 months. Plasma lipid levels were monitored monthly. At the time of killing, all organs and the entire vascular tree were removed, sectioned, processed, and stained with hematoxylin and eosin. The entire vascular tree was also stained with Movat's pentachrome and oil red O (ORO) and assessed semiquantitatively (0 to 5+/5+) and quantitatively (mean intimal area and ORO positivity, mm2). Both blood lipid measurements (total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol) and vessel wall lesion assessment (intimal area, mm2) were statistically elevated (p < 0.05) in the cholesterol-fed eats as compared to those on a normal diet. The highest correlations obtained between blood lipid components and vessel wall measures were the percent increase in triglyceride from base line versus the ORe measurement or foam cell grade (r = 0.86), and percent increase in triglycerides versus the intimal area in the lower abdominal aorta (r = 0.91). Similar relationships were found when the intimal area in the brachiocephalic/subclavian vessels was correlated with the absolute triglyceride values (r = 0.85) or with the percent increase in triglycerides (r = 0.83). Thus, we produced atherosclerotic lesions in the cat within 2 to 4 months on a cholesterol-enriched diet; blood lipid levels were highly correlated with lesional measurements in the vessel wall. This study will provide the basis for evaluation of the susceptibility of New Zealand lipoprotein lipase-deficient cats to diet-induced atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-419
Number of pages11
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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