Dietary β-carotene and α-tocopherol combination does not inhibit atherogenesis in an ApoE-deficient mouse model

Aviv Shaish, Jacob George, Boris Gilburd, Pnina Keren, Hana Levkovitz, Dror Harats*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although lipid oxidation plays a major role in atherogenesis, the role of antioxidants in the prevention and treatment of the process is not clear. Apolipoprotein (apo) E-deficient mice develop spontaneous atherosclerotic lesions in major arteries. The presence of oxidized lipoprotein epitopes in the lesion suggests that oxidation reactions are involved in atherogenesis in this mouse model, but the inhibitory effect of antioxidants on atherogenesis in the model is controversial. To test the effect of dietary antioxidants on atherogenesis, male apoE-deficient mice (n = 15) were fed a standard chow diet supplemented with 0.05% α-tocopherol and 0.05% all-trans β-carotene. A control group (n = 15) received no antioxidant supplement. At the end of the trial, mice consuming vitamins had 5x more plasma vitamin E but undetectable β-carotene levels. However, liver levels of the β-carotene metabolite, retinyl palmitate, were higher in antioxidant-treated mice compared with control mice. The antioxidants had no effect on lipoprotein or on plasma anti-oxidatively modified low density lipoproteins (anti-oxLDL) antibody levels. The vitamins had a small but insignificant effect on lipoprotein resistance to ex vivo oxidation, determined by a longer lag period of conjugated divine formation. Atherosclerosis, determined by the lesion size at the aortic sinus, was insignificantly suppressed in antioxidant-treated mice (mean area±SE, 20 000±7129 versus 13 281±5861 μm2; P=0.40). The aortic atherosclerotic lesion area was similar in both experimental groups (2.55±0.65% and 2.08±0.5% of total aortic area in the control and antioxidant group, respectively; p=0.58). The results of the current study suggest that moderate levels of synthetic antioxidant vitamins have no effect on atherogenesis in apoE-deficient mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1470-1475
Number of pages6
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibodies
  • Antioxidants
  • ApoE
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Mouse
  • Oxidation
  • α- tocopherol
  • β-carotene


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