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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

An Essential Role for Diet in Exercise-Mediated Protection against Dyslipidemia, Inflammation and Atherosclerosis in ApoE-/- Mice
Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Author: Liliana Cesar et al.

by Liliana Cesar, Samuel Vasallo Suarez, Jennipher Adi, Nikhil Adi, Roberto Vazquez-Padron, Hong Yu, Qi Ma, Pascal J. Goldschmidt-Clermont, Arthur Agatston, Paul Kurlansky, Keith A. Webster


Diet and exercise promote cardiovascular health but their relative contributions to atherosclerosis are not fully known. The transition from a sedentary to active lifestyle requires increased caloric intake to achieve energy balance. Using atherosclerosis-prone ApoE-null mice we sought to determine whether the benefits of exercise for arterial disease are dependent on the food source of the additional calories.

Methods and Results

Mice were fed a high-fat diet (HF) for 4.5 months to initiate atherosclerosis after which time half were continued on HF while the other half were switched to a high protein/fish oil diet (HP). Half of each group underwent voluntary running. Food intake, running distance, body weight, lipids, inflammation markers, and atherosclerotic plaque were quantified. Two-way ANOVA tests were used to assess differences and interactions between groups. Exercised mice ran approximately 6-km per day with no difference between groups. Both groups increased food intake during exercise and there was a significant main effect of exercise F((1,44)?=?9.86, p<0.01) without interaction. Diet or exercise produced significant independent effects on body weight (diet: F(1,52)?=?6.85, p?=?0.012; exercise: F(1,52)?=?9.52, p<0.01) with no significant interaction. The combination of HP diet and exercise produced a greater decrease in total cholesterol (F(1, 46)?=?7.9, p<0.01) and LDL (F(1, 46)?=?7.33, p<0.01) with a large effect on the size of the interaction. HP diet and exercise independently reduced TGL and VLDL (p<0.05 and 0.001 respectively). Interleukin 6 and C-reactive protein were highest in the HF-sedentary group and were significantly reduced by exercise only in this group. Plaque accumulation in the aortic arch, a marker of cardiovascular events was reduced by the HP diet and the effect was significantly potentiated by exercise only in this group resulting in significant plaque regression (F1, 49?=?4.77, p<0.05).


In this model exercise is beneficial to combat dyslipidemia and protect from atherosclerosis only when combined with diet.