Protective effect of policosanol on atherosclerotic lesions in rabbits with exogenous hypercholesterolemia


Arruzazabala ML




Braz J Med Biol Res


Policosanol is a mixture of higher aliphatic alcohols purified from sugar cane wax, with cholesterol-lowering effects demonstrable in experimental models and in patients with type II hypercholesterolemia. The protective effects of policosanol on atherosclerotic lesions experimentally induced by lipofundin in rabbits and rats and spontaneously developed in stumptail monkeys have been described. The present study was conducted to determine whether policosanol administered orally to rabbits with exogenous hypercholesterolemia also protects against the development of atherosclerotic lesions. Male New Zealand rabbits weighing 1.5 to 2 kg were randomly divided into three experimental groups which received 25 or 200 mg/kg policosanol (N = 7) orally for 60 days with acacia gum as vehicle or acacia gum alone (control group, N = 9). All animals received a cholesterol-rich diet (0.5%) during the entire period. Control animals developed marked hypercholesterolemia, macroscopic lesions and arterial intimal thickening. Intima thickness was significantly less (32.5 +/- 7 and 25.4 +/- 4 microm) in hypercholesterolemic rabbits treated with policosanol than in controls (57.6 +/- 9 microm). In most policosanol-treated animals, atherosclerotic lesions were not present, and in others, thickness of fatty streaks had less foam cell layers than in controls. We conclude that policosanol has a protective effect on the atherosclerotic lesions occurring in this experimental model.