To compare the effects of fish oil and olive oil on the development of atherosclerosis in Watanabe heritable hyperlipidaemic (WHHL) rabbits, 6-week-old animals were given a daily dose (1.5 ml/kg body weight) of fish oil (n 10) or olive oil (n 10) by oral administration for 16 weeks. Plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerols were measured once monthly, and their concentrations in lipoproteins, together with susceptibility of LDL to oxidation were measured in vitro at the termination of the experiment. Aortic atherosclerosis was quantified biochemically and microscopically. After 4 weeks of treatment, and throughout the study thereafter, blood lipids were significantly (P <0.05) lower in the fish-oil group than in the olive-oil group (cholesterol: 17.0 v. 30.3 mmol/l, triacylglycerols 2.97 v. 6.25 mmol/l, at termination). In the fish-oil group cholesterol was significantly lower in intermediate-density lipoproteins (2.69 v. 6.76 mmol/l) and VLDL (3.36 v. 11.51 mmol/l). Triacylglycerol levels of intermediate-density lipoproteins and VLDL in the fish-oil group were also significantly lower when compared with the olive-oil group (0.54 v 1.36 mmol/l and 0.92 v. 2.87 mmol/l respectively). No group differences were recorded for LDL- and HDL-cholesterol or triacylglycerol levels. A significantly higher oxidation of LDL was recorded 1 h after exposure to CuSO4 in the fish-oil group when compared with the olive-oil soup (0.465 v. 0.202, arbitrary units). The following indicators of atherosclerosis development were significantly lower in the fish-oil group than in the olive-oil group: the cholesterol content (mg/g tissue) in the ascending aorta (29.8 v. 48.9), the intima:media Value (4.81 v. 18.24) and the area of intima (0.10 v. 0.57 mm(2)) in the thoracic aorta. It was concluded that fish-oil treatment decreased blood Lipids and the development of aortic atherosclerosis in WHHL rabbits when compared with olive-oil treatment.
British Journal of Nutrition, 1998, Vol 80, Issue 6, p. 565-573