The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that an experimental high fat (HF) animal with metabolic syndrome results in structural degeneration of the aortic valve. Domestic pigs were divided (n = 12) and administered either a normal or HF diet. After 16-weeks, the HF diet group had increased weight (p ≤ 0.05), total cholesterol (p ≤ 0.05), and systolic and diastolic pressure (p ≤ 0.05). The aortic valve extracellular matrix showed loss of elastin fibers and increased collagen deposition in the HF diet group. Collagen was quantified with ELISA, which showed an increased concentration of collagen types 1 and 3 (p ≤ 0.05). In the HF diet group, the initial stages of microcalcification were observed. Uniaxial mechanical testing of aortic cusps revealed that the HF diet group expressed a decrease in ultimate tensile strength and elastic modulus compared to the control diet group (p ≤ 0.05). Western blot and immunohistochemistry indicated the presence of proteins: lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2, osteopontin, and osteocalcin with an increased expression in the HF diet group. The current study demonstrates that experimental metabolic syndrome induced by a 16-week HF diet was associated with a statistically significant alteration to the physical architecture of the aortic valve.
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