flaxseed and atherosclerosis

Doug Skrecky (oberon@vcn.bc.ca)
Wed, 8 Jul 1998 13:09:51 -0700 (PDT)

Citations: 1-2

Unique Identifier
Prasad K. Mantha SV. Muir AD. Westcott ND. Institution
Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan and Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Saskatoon. Title
Reduction of hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis by CDC-flaxseed with very low alpha-linolenic acid.
Atherosclerosis. 136(2):367-75, 1998 Feb. Abstract
Flaxseed (Type I flaxseed) with 51-55% alpha-linolenic acid in its oil and richest source of plant lignans, has been shown to reduce hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis by 46% without lowering serum lipids. Antiatherogenic activity was claimed to be due to its alpha-linolenic acid and/or lignan content. If alpha-linolenic acid component of flaxseed is responsible for antiatherogenic activity, then, CDC-flaxseed (Type II flaxseed) which has similar oil and lignan content but has very little (2-3% of the total oil) alpha-linolenic acid would have no antiatherogenic effect. An investigation, therefore, was made of Type II flaxseed on high cholesterol diet-induced atherosclerosis and serum lipids [total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C)] in rabbits. Rabbits were assigned to four groups: Group I, Control; Group II, Type II flaxseed diet (7.5 g/kg orally daily); Group III, 1% cholesterol diet; Group IV, 1% cholesterol diet supplemented with Type II flaxseed (7.5 g/kg orally daily). Blood samples were collected before (0 time) and after 4 and 8 weeks of experimental diets for measurement of serum lipids. Aorta was removed at the end of 8 weeks for assessment of atherosclerotic plaques. Serum TC, LDL-C, TC/HDL-C, and LDL-C/HDL-C were lower in Group IV as compared to Group III by 14 and 31%, 17 and 32%, 28 and 34% and 24 and 32%, respectively, at 4 and 8 weeks. HDL-C was not affected by Type II flaxseed in hypercholesterolemic rabbit. TG and VLDL-C were markedly increased in Group IV as compared to Group III. Type II flaxseed reduced the development of atherosclerosis by 69%. Histological changes in the atherosclerotic regions were qualitatively similar in Groups III and IV. Results indicate that reduction in hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis by Type II flaxseed is due to a decrease in serum TC and LDL-C. In conclusion, antiatherogenic activity of Type II flaxseed is not due to alpha-linolenic acid.


Unique Identifier
Prasad K.
Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.
Dietary flax seed in prevention of hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis. Source
Atherosclerosis. 132(1):69-76, 1997 Jul 11. Abstract
Oxygen free radicals (OFRs) have been implicated in the development of hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis. Flax seed is the richest source of omega-3 fatty acid and lignans. omega-3 Fatty acid suppresses the production of interleukin-1 (IL-1), tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and leukotriene B4 (LTB4), and of OFRs by polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNLs) and monocytes. Lignans possess anti-platelet activating factor (PAF) activity and are antioxidant. PAF, IL-1, TNF and LTB4 are known to stimulate PMNLs to produce OFRs. Flaxseed would, therefore, reduce the levels of OFRs and hence would prevent the development of hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis. The effects of dietary flax seed on a high cholesterol diet induced atherosclerosis, lipid profile and OFR-producing activity of PMNLs (PMNL-CL) were investigated in rabbits. The rabbits were divided into 4 groups: group I, control; group II, flax seed diet (7.5 g/kg daily, orally); group III, 1% cholesterol diet; and group IV, same as group III but received flax seed (7.5 g/kg daily, orally). Blood samples were collected before and after 4 and 8 weeks on their respective diets for biochemical measurements and aortae were removed at the end of 8 weeks for estimation of atherosclerotic changes. The high cholesterol diet increased the serum level of total cholesterol (TC) and PMNL-CL without altering the levels of serum triglycerides (TG). These changes were associated with a marked development of atherosclerosis in the aorta. Flax seed reduced the development of aortic atherosclerosis by 46% and reduced the PMNL-CL without significantly lowering the serum cholesterol. Flax seed in normocholesterolemic rabbits increased serum total cholesterol and decreased PMNL-CL without significantly affecting the serum TG. Modest dietary flax seed supplementation is effective in reducing hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis markedly without lowering serum cholesterol. Its effectiveness against hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis could be due to suppression of enhanced production of OFRs by PMNLs in hypercholesterolemia. Dietary flax seed supplementation could, therefore, prevent hypercholesterolemia-related heart attack and strokes.