Wayne State University female rats demonstrate protection from impact of western diet on cardiovascular disease

Hypertension or high-blood pressure is the leading risk factor for major cardiovascular disease. Aortic stiffness is one key predictor of a major cardiovascular disease event.

In a study published in April 2023 in Physiological Reports, Drs. Dragana Komnenov and Noreen Rossi examined the interactive effects of diet and sex on Sprague-Dawley rats. This study was a collaboration between Wayne State University and the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center.

It is known that a diet high in fructose and sodium increases arterial blood pressure and aortic stiffness in male rats. This study examined both male and female rats fed either glucose with normal sodium or high in fructose and high sodium. The latter mimics a “western diet” composed of high salt and high fructose corn syrup additives that is ingested by up to 20% of the population. Mean arterial pressure (i.e., blood pressure) and pulse wave velocity was significantly higher in males fed the high fructose and sodium diets, compared to females. Pulse wave velocity is a measure of arterial compliance, a property of the wall of major blood vessels that permits the vessels to absorb changes in blood pressure and speed of blood flow. This is interesting as there were no differences between the sexes in terms of heart rate. This study demonstrates that female rats are afforded cardiovascular protection from dietary insults. This apparent protection has been observed in young women and future studies are planned to examine effects that occur after menopause. 

To view the article, visit https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.14814/phy2.15687.

Contact info

Julie O'Connor

Director, Research Communications
Phone: 313-577-8845
Email: julie.oconnor@wayne.edu