As the cardiovascular system ages, it becomes more vulnerable to the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation. The aging process, along with external factors such as radiation exposure and lifestyle, induces vascular senescence and accelerates atherosclerotic plaque accumulation. Expression of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase 1 (Nox1), which produces superoxide, is associated with senescence in vascular smooth muscle cells in vitro and atherosclerosis in ApoE mice in vivo. However, it is unknown whether Nox1 could be down-regulated by nutritional interventions aimed to reduce atherosclerosis. Here we study the effect of blackberry supplementation in Nox1 expression and atherosclerosis. Four-month-old ApoE male and female mice were fed low-fat, high-fat or high-fat supplemented with 2% freeze-dried blackberry powder diets for 5 weeks. Analysis of the aorta showed that diet supplemented with blackberry significantly decreased plaque accumulation, senescence associated-β-galactosidase and Nox1 expression in the aorta of male but not female mice. The lipid profile was unchanged by blackberry in both female and male animals. Thus, the known role of Nox1 in atherosclerosis suggests that the atheroprotective effect of blackberry is mediated by Nox1 down-regulation in male mice and that Nox1 is regulated in a gender-dependent manner in females.
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