Effect of intermittent hypoxia on atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice

Jonathan Jun, Christian Reinke, Djahida Bedja, Dan Berkowitz, Shannon Bevans-Fonti, Jianguo Li, Lili A. Barouch, Kathleen Gabrielson, Vsevolod Y. Polotsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Obstructive sleep apnea causes intermittent hypoxia (IH) and is associated with increased cardiovascular mortality. This increased risk may be attributable to more extensive or unstable atherosclerotic plaques in subjects with OSA. We studied the effect of chronic IH in atherosclerosis-prone mice. Methods and results: Apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE-/-) mice fed a high cholesterol diet were exposed to 4 or 12 weeks of IH and compared to intermittent air-exposed controls. At 4 weeks, IH increased plaque size in the aortic sinus and the descending aorta. At 12 weeks, atherosclerosis progressed in all groups, but more rapidly in the descending aorta of IH-exposed animals. Plaque composition was similar between IH and controls. Between 4 and 12 weeks, there were progressive increases in blood pressure, with relatively stable increases in serum lipids and arterial stiffness. Conclusions: IH accelerates atherosclerotic plaque growth in ApoE-/- mice without affecting plaque composition. The mechanisms may include non-additive increases in serum lipids, and cumulative increases in blood pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-386
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Intermittent hypoxia
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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