Eicosanoids and docosanoids have been shown to be involved in atherosclerosis. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are important nutrients that are metabolized by lipoxygenases and cyclooxygenases to various mono-hydroxy metabolites which can be further metabolized by specific enzymes to more complex eicosanoids and docosanoids. In this study a high-performance liquid chromatography methodology was established and rabbits were fed with a control or a high-cholesterol diet to induce atherosclerotic lesions to determine pro- or anti-inflammatory lipid mediators in atherosclerotic vessels. In aortic samples from atherosclerotic rabbits we determined for the first time various eicosanoids/docosanoids and observed an increased concentration of 12-lipoxygenase metabolites. Increased levels of 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE) in high-cholesterol versus control animals as well as increased ratios of 12-HETE/arachidonic acid ratios indicate that 12-lipoxygenase metabolites may have importance in atherosclerosis. In addition, decreased concentrations of the 5-lipoxygenase metabolite leukotriene B4 levels were detected in high-cholesterol animals. A positive correlation of total plaque area with plasma levels of 12-HETE and a negative correlation with aortic levels of endogenous PPARγ-ligand 13-oxo-octadecadienoic acid were found. This study let us conclude that the cholesterol content in the diet might influence atherosclerosis via increased 12-lipoxygenase- and cyclooxygenase-mediated pathways and reduced 5-lipoxygenase pathways.

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