Oxidative stress is one of the major risk factors for coronary artery disease. Ellagic acid is a phenolic compound present in fruits and nuts, and has been found to have antioxidative property. Twenty-four New Zealand white (NZW) rabbits were assigned randomly into four dietary groups. The normal group was fed regular rabbit chow, and the cholesterol group was fed a high fat and cholesterol diet. The ellagic acid (E) group and probucol group were fed the same diet as the cholesterol group plus the addition of 1% (w/w diet) ellagic acid and probucol, respectively. Oxidative stress [as measured by plasma lipids, oxygen free radicals and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS)] increased in the cholesterol group compared with the normal group; however, it decreased in the probucol and E groups compared with the cholesterol group. Forty-five percent of the intimal surface of the thoracic aorta was covered with atherosclerotic lesions in the cholesterol group, but only 2-3% was covered in the E and probucol groups. The aortic level of 8-(OH)dG and the expression of caspase-8, caspase-9 and Fas ligand were also suppressed after ellagic acid supplement. These results indicated that ellagic acid could prevent atherosclerosis via suppression of oxidative stress and apoptosis in hyperlipidemic rabbits.
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