Germ-free housing conditions do not affect aortic root and aortic arch lesion size of late atherosclerotic low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice

Klytaimnistra Kiouptsi, Giulia Pontarollo, Hristo Todorov, Johannes Braun, Sven Jaeckel, Thomas Koeck, Franziska Bayer, Cornelia Karwot, Angelica Karpi, Susanne Gerber, Yvonne Jansen, Philipp Wild, Wolfram Ruf, Andreas Daiber, Emiel van der Vorst, Christian Weber, Yvonne Doering, Christoph Reinhardt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The microbiota has been linked to the development of atherosclerosis, but the functional impact of these resident bacteria on the lesion size and cellular composition of atherosclerotic plaques in the aorta has never been experimentally addressed with the germ-free low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient (Ldlr(-/-)) mouse atherosclerosis model. Here, we report that 16 weeks of high-fat diet (HFD) feeding of hypercholesterolemicLdlr(-/-)mice at germ-free (GF) housing conditions did not impact relative aortic root plaque size, macrophage content, and necrotic core area. Likewise, we did not find changes in the relative aortic arch lesion size. However, late atherosclerotic GFLdlr(-/-)mice had altered inflammatory plasma protein markers and reduced smooth muscle cell content in their atherosclerotic root plaques relative to CONV-RLdlr(-/-)mice. Neither absolute nor relative aortic root or aortic arch plaque size correlated with age. Our analyses on GFLdlr(-/-)mice did not reveal a significant contribution of the microbiota in late aortic atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1809-1823
Number of pages15
JournalGut Microbes
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Microbiota
  • germ-free
  • low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mouse
  • atherosclerosis
  • aortic root
  • aortic arch
  • macrophages
  • smooth muscle cells
  • inflammatory markers
  • age
  • lesion size
  • SEX

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