Marked obesity was induced in rats by feeding a high fat, egg yolk-rich diet. The obese rats were hyperlipemic and showed an increased incidence of lipomatous coronary lesions, but did not develop severe atheromatous lesions.
Spontaneous vascular lesions of several kinds have been observed in aging rats. Among them, plaques containing a fibrin-like material seem to be conspicuous. However, these lesions differ from the experimentally induced changes, which were more fatty. Atherosclerosis, as it is defined in human pathology, has not been observed to develop spontaneously in rats.
Experimental induction of marked hyperlipemia and hypercholesterolemia by feeding a high fat egg yolk-rich diet (supplemented with cholesterol, choleate, and thiouracil), and use of viosterol to cause vascular injury, led to severe atherosclerosis, coronary occlusion, and myocardial infarction.
A consideration of all the findings reported here leads to renewed support of the concept that atherosclerosis has a combination of causes (Aschoff, Anitschkow, Page). Of all the etiological factors considered here, elevation of blood lipides and vascular injury are thought to be the most important ones.