British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Inulin attenuates atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice

Marie-Hélène Rault-Naniaa1, Elyett Gueuxa1, Céline Demougeota2, Christian Demignéa1, Edmond Rocka1 and Andrzej Mazura1 c1

a1 Equipe Stress Métabolique et Micronutriments, Unité de Nutrition Humaine UMR1019, INRA, Theix, Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine d'Auvergne, 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France

a2 Laboratoire de Physiologie et Pharmacologie – Nutrition Préventive Expérimentale, Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie, Besançon, France


Effects of different inulin-type fructan fractions were studied on atherosclerotic plaque formation in male apo E-deficient mice. Thirty-two mice were randomly divided into four groups and received either a semi-purified sucrose-based diet (control group), or diets in which sucrose was replaced in part by various inulin-type fructans (10 g/100 g): long-chain inulin, oligofructose, or an oligofructose-enriched inulin for 16 weeks. The presence of atherosclerotic plaques was assessed by histomorphometry in the aortic sinus. The apo E-deficient mice fed long-chain inulin or an oligofructose-enriched inulin had about 35 % and 25 % less atherosclerotic lesion area compared with the control group, respectively. Feeding long-chain inulin significantly reduced plasma cholesterol concentrations (P<0·001), and the three inulin-type fructans reduced triacylglycerol (TAG) concentrations compared with the control group (P<0·001). Both the long-chain inulin and an oligofructose-enriched inulin significantly lowered hepatic cholesterol concentrations compared with the control diet (P<0·05). Hepatic TAG concentrations were significantly lower in all three groups fed the fructan-supplemented diets v. the control group (P<0·0001). The results of the present study suggest that inhibition of atherosclerotic plaque formation is more potent in the presence of long-chain inulin, either alone or in combination with oligofructose (an oligofructose-enriched inulin), and that this probably is related to changes in lipid metabolism.

(Received February 02 2006)

(Revised June 09 2006)

(Accepted June 12 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Andrzej Mazur, fax +33 4 73 62 4638, email