The oxidative modification of low density lipoprotein (LDL) may play an important role in atherosclerosis. We found that the antioxidant N,N'-diphenyl-1,4-phenylenediamine (DPPD) inhibits in vitro LDL oxidation at concentrations much lower than other reported antioxidants. To test whether DPPD could prevent atherosclerosis, New Zealand White rabbits were fed either a diet containing 0.5% cholesterol and 10% corn oil (control group) or the same diet also containing 1% DPPD (DPPD-fed group) for 10 wk. Plasma total cholesterol levels were not different between the two groups, but DPPD feeding increased the levels of triglyceride (73%, P = 0.007) and HDL cholesterol (26%, P = 0.045). Lipoproteins from DPPD-fed rabbits contained DPPD and were much more resistant to oxidation than control lipoproteins. After 10 wk, the DPPD-fed animals had less severe atherosclerosis than did the control animals: thoracic aorta lesion area was decreased by 71% (P = 0.0007), and aortic cholesterol content was decreased by 51% (P = 0.007). Although DPPD cannot be given to humans because it is a mutagen, our results indicate that orally active antioxidants can have antiatherosclerotic activity. This strongly supports the theory that oxidized LDL plays an important role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.
C P Sparrow, T W Doebber, J Olszewski, M S Wu, J Ventre, K A Stevens, Y S Chao