Endurance exercise training does not limit coronary atherosclerosis in familial hypercholesterolemic swine
Human studies demonstrate that physical activity reduces both morbidity and mortality of coronary heart disease (CHD) including decreased progression and/or regression of CHD with life-style modification which includes exercise. However, evidence supporting an intrinsic, direct effect of exercise in attenuating the development of CHD is equivocal. One limitation has been the lack of a large animal model with clinically evident CHD disease. Thus, we examined the role of endurance exercise in CHD development in a swine model of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) that exhibits robust, complex atherosclerosis. FH swine were randomly assigned to either sedentary (Sed) or exercise trained (Ex) groups. At 10 months of age, Ex pigs began a 10 months, moderate-intensity treadmill-training intervention. At 14 months, all pigs were switched to a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. CHD was assessed by intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) both prior to and after completion of 6 months on the HFC diet. Prior to HFC diet, Ex resulted in a greater coronary artery size in the proximal and mid sections of the LCX compared to SED, with no effect in the LAD. After 6 months on HFC diet, there was a 5–6 fold increase in absolute plaque volume in all segments of the LCX and LAD in both groups. At 20 months, there was no difference in vessel volume, lumen volume, absolute or relative plaque volume in either the LCX or LAD between Sed and Ex animals. These findings fail to support an independent, direct effect of exercise in limiting CHD progression in familial hypercholesterolemia.