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Diet can be a useful tool to induce or accelerate atherosclerosis in laboratory animal models. Key dietary features used to induce atherosclerosis in rodents vary depending on the research model, desired endpoint, and length of feeding. While formulations of atherogenic diets continue to evolve, the options that are well-described in the literature are summarized below. For more information on each diet option and literature references see the expandable tabs following the diet table.

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Research use Key dietary features Examples
“Western” purified atherogenic diet
Accelerated hypercholesterolemia and plaque formation in genetically modified models such as Apoe and Ldlr deficient mice.

Used for diet induced obesity in a variety of rodent models.
  • High fat diet (20 - 23% by weight; 40 - 45% kcal from fat)
  • Saturated fatty acids (SFA >60% of total fatty acids)
  • Milkfat/butterfat
  • Sucrose (34% by weight)
  • Cholesterol (0.2% total)
TD.88137
TD.10885
“Western” purified atherogenic diet with added cholesterol and cholate source*
Induce hypercholesterolemia and mild atherosclerosis (foam cells, fatty streaks) in primarily wild type mice and rats.

Will not promote obesity.
  • High fat diet (15 - 20% by weight; 34 - 45% kcal from fat)
  • Saturated fatty acids (SFA >55% of total fatty acids)
  • Milkfat/butterfat, cocoa butter
  • Sucrose (30-50% by weight)
  • Cholesterol (1 - 1.25%)
  • Cholate Source (0.5%)*
TD.02028
TD.09237
Hybrid high fat diets with added cholesterol and cholate source*
Induce hypercholesterolemia and mild atherosclerosis (foam cells, fatty streaks) in primarily wild type mice and rats.

Will not promote obesity.

Also used for lithogenic (gallstone) rodent studies.
  • 75% rodent breeder diet; 25% purified ingredients
  • High fat (~15% by weight; 37% kcal from fat)
  • Saturated fatty acids (SFA >45% of total fatty acids)
  • Cholesterol (1.25%)
  • Cholate source (0.5%)*
TD.88051
TD.90221
Standard diets with added cholesterol
Induce hypercholesterolemia in genetically modified and wild type models without promoting obesity.
  • Standard, grain-based rodent diet
  • Minimal/moderate phytoestrogen diets recommended
  • Cholesterol (1 - 4%)
TD.120097
TD.07841
TD.01383

 

*Sodium cholate or cholic acid aid cholesterol and fat absorption and reduce cholesterol disposal via bile acid synthesis. However, if including a cholate source is not desired for your research, diets without cholate are available.

For additional phytoestrogen information, see our list of phytoestrogen references.

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