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Even skinny pigs lose heart.

Even skinny pigs lose heart

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison haveidentified a strain of pigs carrying mutant genes that code for three different plasma lipoproteins--molecules associated with elevated blood cholesterol and heart disease. The pigs develop heart disease as early as seven months of age, and die of heart problems within four years, according to a report in the Dec. 19 SCIENCE. Moreover, even low-fat, cholesterol-free diets did not stop premature development of heart disease. (In other types of pigs studied by the Wisconsin group, diet did affect the development of heart disease.) Therefore, they conclude, genes appear to be the determining factor.

Two models for inherited hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosisin humans and rabbits already exist. Both, however, are based on defects in lipoprotein receptor activity. The newly described model in pigs rests on defects in the lipoprotein structure, although how structural changes cause heart disease was not determined. Tissue studies of the mutant pigs showed coronary atherosclerotic lesions similar in appearance to those found in humans. Even normal pigs can develop atherosclerosis between six and eight years of age, making the species a good model for studying human cardiac problems.
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Title Annotation:pigs used in research on genetic aspects of heart disease
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 10, 1987
Words:193
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