Objective: This study determined whether hypercholesterolemia would contribute to both the initiation and progression of angiotensin (Ang)II-induced abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) in mice.

Methods and Results: To determine whether hypercholesterolemia accelerates the initiation of AAAs, male low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor -/- mice were either fed one week of Western diet prior to starting AngII infusion or initiated Western diet one week after starting AngII infusion. During the first week of AngII infusion, mice fed normal diet had less luminal expansion of the suprarenal aorta compared to those initiated Western diet after the first week of AngII infusion. The two groups achieved comparable luminal dilation on week 2 through week 6 of AngII infusion as monitored by ultrasound. To determine whether hypercholesterolemia contributed to the progression of established AAAs, male LDL receptor -/- mice were fed Western diet and infused with AngII for 4 weeks. Mice with established AAAs were then stratified into two groups based on luminal diameters measured by ultrasound. While AngII infusion was continued for another 8 weeks in both groups, mice in one group were continuously fed Western diet, but diet in the other group was switched to normal laboratory diet. In the latter group, plasma cholesterol concentrations were reduced rapidly to approximately 500 mg/dl within one week after the diet was switched from Western diet to normal laboratory diet. Luminal expansion progressed constantly in mice continuously fed Western diet, whereas no continuous expansion was detected in mice that were switched to normal laboratory diet.

Conclusion: Hypercholesterolemia accelerates both the initiation of AAAs and progression of established AAAs in AngII-infused male LDL receptor -/- mice.

Clinical Relevance: Hypercholesterolemia is modestly associated with AAAs in observational or retrospective clinical studies. It is not feasible to study whether hypercholesterolemia contributes to the initiation of AAAs or progression of established AAAs in human. This study using AngII-induced AAA mouse model provides solid evidence that hypercholesterolemia contributes to both the initiation and progression of AAAs, supporting that statin therapy at any stage of AAA development may be beneficial to hypercholesterolemic patients with AAAs.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Annals of Vascular Medicine & Research, v. 7, no. 1, 1099, p. 1-5.

© 2020 Liu J, et al.

Open Access Publication by JSciMed Central is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Funding Information

The authors’ research work was supported by the National Institutes of Health under award number R01HL133723 and HL139748. Hisashi Sawada is supported by an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship (18POST33990468).