Excessive consumption of carbohydrate and fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. We sought to determine the potential ultrastructural alterations in large blood vessels induced by a high fat and fructose diet (HFD) in a rat model of pre-diabetes. Rats were either fed with HFD (model group) or a standard laboratory chow (control group) for 15 weeks before being sacrificed. The harvested thoracic aorta tissues were examined using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and blood samples were assayed for biomarkers of pre-diabetes.TEM images showed that HFD induced profound pathological changes to the aortic wall layers, tunica intima and tunica media ultrastructures in the pre-diabetic rats as shown by apoptotic endothelial cells with pyknotic nuclei, damaged basal lamina, deteriorated smooth muscle cells that have irregular plasma membranes, shrunken nucleus with clumped nuclear chromatin, damaged mitochondria and few cytoplasmic lipid droplets and vacuoles. In addition, HFD significantly (p<0.05) decreased adiponectin and increased biomarkers of lipidemia, glycaemia, inflammation, oxidative stress, vascular injury such as soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1), soluble vascular cell adhesion protein 1 (sVCAM-1), endothelin-1 (ET-1), and coagulation and thrombosis such as Von Willebrand factor (vWF), and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), compared to normal levels of these parameters in the control group. Thus, we demonstrated that feeding rats with a HFDisable to develop a pre-diabetic animal model that is useful to study the aortic ultrastructural alterations.
KEY WORDS: Aorta; Ultrastructure; Pre-diabetes; Vascular injury; Rat model.