Atherosclerotic plaques are characterized by an accumulation of macrophages, lipids, smooth muscle cells, and fibroblasts, and, in advanced stages, necrotic debris within the arterial walls. Dietary habits such as high fat and high cholesterol (HFHC) consumption are known risk factors for atherosclerosis. However, the key metabolic contributors to diet-induced atherosclerosis are far from established. Herein, we investigate the role of a 2-year HFHC diet challenge in the metabolic changes of development and progression of atherosclerosis. We used a non-human primate (NHP) model (baboons, n = 60) fed a HFHC diet for two years and compared metabolomic profiles in serum from animals on baseline chow with serum collected after the challenge diet using two-dimensional gas chromatography time-of-flight mass-spectrometry (2D GC-ToF-MS) for untargeted metabolomic analysis, to quantify metabolites that contribute to atherosclerotic lesion formation. Further, clinical biomarkers associated with atherosclerosis, lipoprotein measures, fat indices, and arterial plaque formation (lesions) were quantified. Using two chemical derivatization (i.e., silylation) approaches, we quantified 321 metabolites belonging to 66 different metabolic pathways, which revealed significantly different metabolic profiles of HFHC diet and chow diet fed baboon sera. We found heritability of two important metabolites, lactic acid and asparagine, in the context of diet-induced metabolic changes. In addition, abundance of cholesterol, lactic acid, and asparagine were sex-dependent. Finally, 35 metabolites correlated (R2, 0.068-0.271, P < 0.05) with total lesion burden assessed in three arteries (aortic arch, common iliac artery, and descending aorta) which could serve as potential biomarkers pending further validation. This study demonstrates the feasibility of detecting sex-specific and heritable metabolites in NHPs with diet-induced atherosclerosis using untargeted metabolomics allowing understanding of atherosclerotic disease progression in humans.
Misra, B. B., Puppala, S. R., Comuzzie, A. G., Mahaney, M. C., VandeBerg, J. L., Olivier, M., & Cox, L. A. (2019). Analysis of serum changes in response to a high fat high cholesterol diet challenge reveals metabolic biomarkers of atherosclerosis. PloS one, 14(4), e0214487. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214487
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