A 9-cis β-carotene-enriched diet inhibits atherogenesis and fatty liver formation in LDL receptor knockout mice

Ayelet Harari, Dror Harats, Daniella Marko, Hofit Cohen, Iris Barshack, Yehuda Kamari, Ayelet Gonen, Yariv Gerber, Ami Ben-Amotz, Aviv Shaish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our aim was to study the effect of 9-cis β-carotene-rich powder of the alga Dunaliella bardawil on lipid profile, atherogenesis, and liver steatosis in high-fat diet-fed LDL receptor knockout mice. In 4 sets of experiments, mice were distributed into the following groups: control, fed an unfortified diet; Dunaliella 50, fed a diet composed of 50% 9-cis and 50% all-trans β-carotene; Dunaliella 25, fed a diet containing 25% 9-cis and 75% all-trans β-carotene; β-carotene-deficient Dunaliella, fed β-carotene-deficient Dunaliella powder; and all-trans β-carotene, fed a synthetic all-trans β-carotene. All fortified diets contained 0.6% total β-carotene. Algal 9-cis β-carotene was absorbed by the mice and accumulated in the liver. Synthetic all-trans β-carotene was not converted to 9-cis β-carotene. Dunaliella 50 inhibited high-fat diet-induced plasma cholesterol elevation by 40-63% and reduced cholesterol concentrations in the atherogenic VLDL and LDL. Atherosclerotic lesion area in mice treated with Dunaliella 50 was 60-83% lower compared with mice fed the high-fat diet alone. β-Carotene-deficient Dunaliella did not influence plasma cholesterol and atherogenesis, suggesting that β-carotene is essential for a Dunaliella protective effect. Moreover, by administrating Dunaliella powder containing different levels of 9-cis and all-trans β-carotene isomers, we found that the effect on plasma cholesterol concentration and atherogenesis is 9-cis-dependent. Dunaliella 50 also inhibited fat accumulation and inflammation in the livers of mice fed a high-fat diet, which was accompanied by reduced mRNA levels of inflammatory genes. These results in mice suggest that 9-cis β-carotene may have the potential to inhibit atherogenesis in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1923-1930
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008


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