Testing & Services

Watanabe Rabbit

Out of Control Cholesterol: The Watanabe Rabbit as an Animal Model of Familial Hypercholesterolemia

What is the Watanabe Rabbit:  The Watanabe Heritable Hyperlipidemic (WHHL-MI) rabbit is an animal model of familial hypercholesterolemia with a propensity for myocardial infarction, which is caused by a genetic and functional deficiency in low-density lipoprotein receptors.  This leads to a significant increase in serum cholesterol levels compared to normal animals. 

The serum levels observed in the APS Watanabe colony (noted in the graph above) are comparable to those patients with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).

The Use of Watanabe Rabbits in Your Medical Device Research:  One of the many benefits of this model is the predisposition to spontaneous formation of atherosclerotic plaque.  The plaque formations typically targeted for medical device intervention occur in the aorta and iliac arteries.  As the vessels are typically between 2.0 and 3.5 mm in diameter, they are ideal for the investigation of coronary or peripheral devices.  “Optimal” age/weight selection should be targeted to obtain an expected/desired stage of plaque build-up.  Your investigation may benefit from a significant level of deposition at the start if your ultimate goal is to demonstrate plaque reduction, not just decrease in progression.


The Use of Watanabe Rabbits in Your Pharmaceutical Research:

These animals represent one of the best characterized preclinical models for familial hyperlipidemia and the development of resulting atherosclerosis.  The overall translational applicability of this model in evaluating a wide range of therapeutic targets has been well demonstrated. Examples include lipid lowering agents, cholesterol synthesis inhibitors, fibrates, antioxidants, and a wide variety of anti-atherosclerotic agents (Kobayashi et al., J Biomed and Biotech 2011).

Working with the Model: Currently, APS is one of two labs in the world that have an active commercial breeding colony of Watanabe rabbits (http://www.med.kobe-u.ac.jp/iea/w-provide.html).  Contact Dr. Mark Smith or Dr. Jim Pomonis at 763-717-7990 to discuss how this model of familial hypercholesterolemia can be utilized in your preclinical research.


Using OCT to Evaluate Lesion Formation in Watanabe Rabbits

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