Main content area

Choosing hamsters but not rats as a model for studying plasma cholesterol-lowering activity of functional foods

Zhang, Zesheng, Wang, Hao, Jiao, Rui, Peng, Cheng, Wong, Yin Mei, Yeung, Venus Sai Ying, Huang, Yu, Chen, Zhen-Yu
Molecular nutrition & food research 2009 v.53 no.7 pp. 921-930
functional foods, diet, liver, humans, Mesocricetus auratus, models, cholesterol, low density lipoprotein, rats, receptors, hypercholesterolemia, bile acids
Rats and hamsters are commonly used rodents to test the efficacy of cholesterol-lowering functional foods. In general, a diet containing 1% cholesterol for rats whereas a diet containing 0.1% cholesterol for hamsters is used to induce the hypercholesterolemia. The present study was carried out to compare hamsters with rats as a hypercholesterolemia model. Golden Syrian hamsters and Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into four groups and fed one of the four diets containing 0-0.9% cholesterol. Results demonstrated that serum total cholesterol (TC) in hamsters was raised 73-81% higher than that in rats fed the same cholesterol diets. Unlike rats in which HDL-C accounted very little for serum TC, the lipoprotein profile in hamsters was closer to that in humans. We investigated interaction of higher cholesterol diets with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutary-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase, low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDL-R) and cholesterol-7α-hydroxylase (CYP7A1), sterol regulatory element binding protein-2 (SREBP-2), and liver X receptor (LXR-α). Results showed hamsters and rats metabolized cholesterol differently. In view that hamsters synthesize and excrete cholesterol and bile acids in a manner similar to that in humans, it is concluded that hamsters but not rats shall be chosen as a model to study efficacy of cholesterol-lowering functional foods.