Transgenic laboratory animal models in atherosclerosis research
Atherosclerosis and its clinical sequela coronary heart disease is a major cause of death in the modern world. It is caused by a complex interaction between genetical and environmental factors. Over the last decade the development of transgenic techniques and the isolation of human genes coding for proteins that directly interact with plasma lipids made it possible to create new transgenic animal models in atherosclerosis research. Several transgenic mouse lines have now been established that overexpress many of the lipoprotein transport genes. Additionally, the technique of homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells has been used to knock out lipoprotein transport genes. The new models allow in Vivo investigation of over- or underexpression or total lack of different lipoprotein transport genes on development of atherosclerosis under controlled conditions. The models are a promising tool for studying the effect of drugs, diet and chosen environmental factors on atherosclerosis, and will facilitate thelunderstanding of the pathophysiology of atherosclerotic lesions.