The effects of fish oil on the development of arteriosclerosis were assessed using a special susceptible strain (SEA) of Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica). Sixty four quail were randomly divided into two groups and placed on isocaloric and approximately isocholesterolic (2% by weight) diets. Group A (control) was supplemented with 10% beef tallow oil, while group B received 10% Menhaden fish oil. The birds were sacrificed at 10 weeks (early) and 15-16 weeks (late). Based on semiquantitative histological grading of the arteriosclerotic lesions in the proximal aorta and brachiocephalic arteries, a score from 1 (no lesion) to 5 (severe, diffuse lesions) was assigned. A total of 57 quail were evaluated (seven died prior to scheduled sacrifice). At the early period, the mean arteriosclerosis scores for group A (n = 8) and group B (n = 8) were 3.3 (SD 1.0) and 1.9(1.0) respectively (p less than 0.017); 63% of the quail in group A and 13% of those in group B had a score greater than or equal to 3 (p less than 0.25, NS). At the late period, the scores for group A (n = 20) and group B (n = 21) were 3.8(0.6) and 2.6(0.9), respectively (p less than 0.001); 95% of the birds in group A and 43% of those in group B had a score greater than or equal to 3 (p less than 0.005). Histopathological examination of the arteriosclerotic lesions revealed disruption of the innermost elastic lamina, increased proteoglycan deposition in the medial interlamellar spaces, and the distinct involvement of macrophage like cells. Compared to human disease, arteriosclerosis in the quail is marked by distinct similarities, as well as differences. The SEA strain of Japanese quail appears to be a practical model for the study of arteriosclerosis; fish oil reduces the severity of disease in these birds when fed a high cholesterol diet.
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View details for PubMedID 2598217