1.Patients with an elevated plasma level of either homocysteine or cholesterol are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Both methionine, the precursor of homocysteine, and cholesterol are found primarily in the same foods; therefore we investigated the effect of methionine feeding alone, cholesterol feeding alone, and both, on the thickness of the aortic wall and the aortic elastic lamina of normotensive animals.

2.Twenty normotensive rats were divided into four groups of five animals. The following diet was administered for 15 weeks: normal chow; normal chow supplemented with 2% methionine; normal chow supplemented with 2% cholesterol; normal chow supplemented with 2% methionine+2% cholesterol.

3.The results showed a 3-fold decrease (P< 0.003) in the aortic elastic lamina in the 2% methionine group and a 2.5-fold decrease in the 2% cholesterol group compared with the normal chow group. There was a 9-fold (P< 0.0003) decrease in the 2% methionine+2% cholesterol group compared with the normal chow group. Furthermore, feeding with methionine plus cholesterol significantly increased aortic wall thickness compared with the methionine group, cholesterol group or control.

4.These results demonstrate an augmented effect of cholesterol plus methionine in the deterioration of the aortic elastic lamina, and furthermore, the combination of these two agents increases the thickness of the aortic wall. The results indicate a more important role for these two agents in combination than for either agent alone.

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